Trump Won’t Be President. But…

April 20, 2014
Not his hair. His hate.

Donald Trump knows he can’t be the next American president.

He knows he doesn’t have any serious chances. People who are supporting him now are supporting his hate speech and message of bigotry, paranoia and exclusion. But nobody knows it better than Trump himself that he has zero knowledge about how the world turns, how tax is collected, how roads are paved, and how barbers run their unisex shops across America.

Trump never read history or geography or science or arts books…none of his colleagues did. He never paid taxes…none of the American one percent did in recent years, especially since Reagan. He never drove on the road…in fact, his class only rode the helicopter from Wall Street straight up to their New Jersey, Connecticut or Rhode Island mansions.helicopter

That is how their world turns…as we’ve seen on soap operas and Hollywood. Their lives are fantastical and frivolous. I would give it an F.

And we all know Trump never went to a barber shop. In fact, he has the most unkempt hair that we have seen in recent years. It’s shameful.

But here on this blog, we don’t talk about shamefully unkempt hair. Or, Hillary Clinton’s $600 hair. Here, we talk about more serious and important things.

Six months ago, I said this to my labor union students [paraphrasing]:

“Trump will not be the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, and he knows it. But he is doing what he has been asked to do: move an already right-wing media discussion to an even further right, and the 2016 campaign will be fought within that narrow, right-wing, hate and war spectrum. All else will be excluded. That is the plan.”

Let’s go global for a second, given this is a globalized economy today, and elections are not local either. They are global. Monsanto farmer suicides in India can make it an election debate issue between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

In USA and India, the two largest “democracies” in the world, the one percent is doing precisely this, what we call distraction from the 99 percent’s bread and butter issues, and putting spotlight on sensational issues. That is the plan.

India cartoon
In India, suddenly, beef eating or not has become a nationwide media market sell. As if India and its one billion poor people have solved all their problems with poverty, hunger, malnourishment, diseases, environment pollution, illiteracy, or unemployment. Women in India found equality and respect. Film stars — especially the billionaires — suddenly find out that India is so intolerant that they may have to leave the country. 

In USA, Trump and Kruz and Carson and Huckabee and Bush the juniormost president-to-be all want to tell us how tough we must be, and how evil Muslims and Latinos are. Trump called Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers. When that didn’t go very well, ISIS came along to help. Now, it’s all about terror and ISIS and Mali and the imminent threat to American security and American way of life.

(Without telling us who and what created ISIS and Mali in the first place, that is. Hillary won’t talk about Libya and Mali. Bush  and New York Times and Judith Miller won’t talk about Iraq, Syria and ISIS.)

Trump and all other Republicans candidates are now saying that Muslims are all evil, as “thousands and thousands of Muslims cheered” when the World Trade Center towers came down on 9/11. Now, we must mark and tag and label each and every Muslim in America, Trump said.

(This tagging sounds familiar too…just go back on history a few decades.)

income inequality

And American big media — New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NPR, PBS, NBC, ABC and CBS, plus the right wing nuts on their TV and radio shows — have all decided that the 2016 elections should not and must not have any discussion on subjects such as the unprecedented income inequality in America, the hidden, massive unemployment, the anti-labor treaties such as Obama’s TPP (or Clinton’s NAFTA), or global movements such as the ones on climate change or women’s equality. No more debate on police brutality and Black Lives Matter. No discussion no more on immigration reform.

climate-changeThey have succeeded. It is very likely that Bush or Cruz from the Republican side and Hillary Clinton and Blue Dog Democrats from their side will be made the candidates for another four years of dumb charade, aka presidential elections.

Serious people who talk about serious issues — like Bernie Sanders — will be officially ostracized and excluded. Unless Bernie’s people can bring in so much pressure that DNC has no choice but to nominate him.

Noam Chomsky once said,“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”

That is the plan. Trump and Cruz, with help from Hillary and Obama, are moving the spectrum of the election debate to far right.

New York Times and Washington Post and CNN and NBC are making sure that is where the “lively debate” stays.

Just think about it.


Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

Chomsky debate spectrum




Is World War III imminent?

I had this very scary, eerie, uncanny feeling when we went through the horrors of September Eleventh. And I have the same feeling now.

I have a feeling today that Western powers — particularly major, violent, repressive powers in the world — are sucking us into a Third World War. They tried to do it when September 11 happened. It was a devastating genocide of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. On the pretext of Weapons of Mass Destruction that they did not have. It was a unilateral war, defying the United Nations.

USA’s own consulate officers in Saudi Arabia had issued visas to twelve terrorists who blew up the World Trade Center. Iraq had nothing to with the terrorists. Saudi Arabia did. Yet, U.S. did not invade Saudi Arabia. They invaded and destroyed Iraq. They invaded and destroyed Afghanistan.


Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their allies — through the killing rampage in that ancient land, made enormous profit. Some say, Cheney’s company made billions. U.S. corporations made billions.

But because U.S. did not find more than a handful of allies at that time, they could not begin a new world war, even though in all likelihood, that was what they had on mind.

Sanity triumphed over insanity. Millions of people worldwide — including us here in America — came out on the street to protest war and terror.

Today, a silent, global, economic war is already on against the naive and the innocent. IMF, World Bank, Wall Street corporations and their politicians are sucking the world dry — one country at a time — through their economic enslavement, massive privatization, structural loans that the borrowing countries can’t get out of, and devaluation of currency. Millions of people are dying because they don’t have nutrition or health care. Man-made climate change and global pollution are killing an unprecedented number of people.

But I have a feeling that this time, taking advantage of the horrifying ISIS menace, they have begun a violent, fierce, global war — on terrorists that they themselves created, and also against anybody they perceive as terrorists. Muslims in particular. Or, Muslim-looking people and Muslim-type countries across the world. I have a feeling this war will quickly spread across the Middle East, and Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Egypt will be immediately sucked into it. And then, it might spread like an out-of-control wildfire to Pakistan and India on one end, perhaps Malaysia and Indonesia on the Far East, and Northern Africa and Turkey on the other. Russia will definitely be a target for the war hawks.

middle_eastBecause ISIS has now directly hit France and Europe, some European countries will have no choice but to be a part of the brutal carnage.

U.S. war industries, and Wall Street corporations are ecstatic that a new, massive war is on the horizon. War is perhaps the most lucrative market. It’s their Viagra. They can sell bombs to barbed wire, canned soup to cleaning soap, computer chips to potato chips, and toilet paper to news paper. And much more. It’s a free, totally deregulated market for the one percent. And there is zero accountability.

War to the war hawks is super-great business. Just ask Kissinger.

Just ask Bush and Cheney. Or, McCain, who only recently visited ISIS leaders, and praised them as freedom fighters.

For me, I will buy anti-depressants.


Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York


ISIS, and Other Journalism of Exclusion


ISIS — we all know, now, through the horrific carnage in Paris (and Lebanon).

But what the heck is Journalism of Exclusion?

Let’s talk about it.

Only recently, John McCain praised ISIS, and took pictures with the terrorist group’s top leaders. New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NPR, NBC, and other major media did not report it, let alone publish photos that are now easily available online.

Even today, after the Paris (and oh yes, Lebanon) massacres, they did not report that Obama govt. and a Republican congress have been in continuous touch with ISIS, and nobody is held accountable for their support and praise of the terror group. U.S. and Western “liberal” media pretend they did not know.

Not too long ago, New York Times reporter Judith Miller cooked up a so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction story, which the globally-feared paper printed on its front page for weeks, where defying all journalistic standards, it used one (and only one!) globally discredited source named Ahmad Chalabi.

The report validated Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to begin the Iraq genocide.

Is this a war crime?
Is this a war crime?

New York Times never bothered to mention that Chalabi was a paid CIA agent, a fact they disclosed only weeks ago, in a Chalabi obituary.

Now, let’s talk about the 2016 U.S. elections, that will decide the fate of an entire world and its people.

NYT, Washington Post, CNN, NBC and such powerful, global media never mention that Hillary Clinton is supported by (1) Monsanto, GMO corporation responsible for a massive number of farmers’ suicides in India, (2) Goldman Sachs, one of the primary culprits behind the 2008 economic crash, (3) Wal-Mart, corporation responsible for the destruction of American manufacturing jobs, and (4) private prison corporations that make huge profit by putting blacks and immigrants in American jails.

The above are all examples of Journalism of Exclusion.

I am a student of Noam Chomsky, but I don’t know if he has ever used the term “Journalism of Exclusion.” I have been using it, and asking my politically conscious and courageous friends to challenge big media head on. Only this fierce yet nonviolent challenge can save us from another generation’s time of mass deception and stolen democracy.

The current, global terrorism — both ISIS and American — finds its roots and refuge in this mass deception and the pretense of a free press and open democracy.

Do we want to put up with this violence, lies, and exclusion?

You decide.


Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

Just tell the truth. Do not exclude it.
Just tell the truth. Do not exclude it.

The Beef-Eating Controversy in India

beef 1Where is the real problem?

Many noted intellectuals, authors and film makers have returned their national awards to the government, to protest the communal and religious intolerance that has resurfaced in India.

It is true that India’s BJP government is run by people, many of whom are anti-Muslim and anti-socialism (and very capitalist), and they have had their lifelong allegiance to RSS, Hindu fundamentalist organization (where I also began my political and organizing life — I have written a book about them, since quitting). Prime minister Modi, finance minister Arun Jaitley, and cultural affairs minister Mahesh Sharma are three examples. Jaitley and Sharma are also former ABVP leaders (RSS’ student wing, where I was the state secretary of West Bengal).

Prime Minister Modi praying at RSS meeting. U.S. once revoked his visa, but that was before he became a friend of Obama, Clinton, and Wall Street.
Prime Minister Modi praying at RSS meeting. U.S. once revoked his visa, but that was before he became a friend of Obama, Clinton, and Wall Street.

I have written and talked so much against their Tea Party or Christian Coalition-type politics over the years that I do not need anybody’s permission to do it anymore.

However, as much as I despise and condemn their fascistic ugliness, including killing of free thinkers and progressive human rights activists, I can’t help but pointing out the fallacy in these “Beef Protests.” First, even though BJP/RSS is largely a bunch of bigots, and Shiv Sena in Bombay is a xxx-variety (allegedly created by CIA), the so-called liberal Congress’ hands are also blood-stained. They have fomented communal and caste violence across India, to win elections and keep in power. Congress thugs killed thousands of innocent Sikhs in 1984.

In Bangladesh and Pakistan, Islamic extremists’ anti-Hindu, anti-intellectual violence has been going on for decades, with no international outcry. And in India, because of its enormous, unprecedented, open, voluntary slave market, USA, Obama and Clinton are not saying a word to stop either the beef violence or violence on women — both of which are now rampant.

Basically, politically marginalized, corrupt Congress and irrelevant left parties are desperately fishing out of troubled waters to return to power.

Free thinker and blogger Avijit Roy was murdered in Bangladesh by Jamat Islami. His wife was gravely wounded.
Free thinker and blogger Avijit Roy was murdered in Bangladesh by Jamat Islami. His wife was gravely wounded.

I am totally against any violence, bigotry and racism — anywhere in the world. But I do believe, the real focus of the protests must be on the economic issues, because U.S. powers, IMF, World Bank and the global 1% are completely colonizing India and destroying the Third World democracies, beyond recognition.

It is a massive neo-colonization, and it is silent and bloodless.

They have found BJP and Modi as their ally in India, and if in the next elections, some Congress-led coalition throws BJP out of power, the same economic destruction and neoliberal colonization will continue.

The 1984 Sikh massacre by Congress party thugs is still raw wound for many.
The 1984 Sikh massacre by Congress party thugs is still raw wound for many.

Congress, since the CIA-led dismantling of India’s socialistic governance and killing of Indira Gandhi, has embraced global corporations and IMF, and the result has been disastrous for the poor — one billion Indians. Labor unions were killed off. Environmental movements were crushed. Voices of dissent were murdered. Monsanto farmers are committing suicide, and cricket players and Bollywood stars are not paying taxes.

Politics in South Asia now is ONLY about making money, using cycles of voting. Black money — unaccounted for billions — rules. Unthinkable in the land of Gandhi and Tagore!

Liberal intellectuals protesting now, many of whom are affluent, do not want to come out against the economic colonization, corruption, and new slavery. They only speak out when their safety is in question.

I must give credit to the left parties who have rallied around the economic demands, but I do not believe only the left have any power to put together a meaningful resistance. They have NOT evolved, and embraced the new, global reality.

In fact, I do not believe in the left-right divide in the first place. Only a broad coalition and bridge building across the 99% — of moderate left and right — can make any serious changes in the political and economic landscape.

Beef protests by the elite, including film stars and such famous personalities, are hollow, meaningless, and often hypocritical. Protests must be at the roots of the catastrophic economic destruction.

Thanks for listening.


Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York


Hundreds of thousands of farmers are committing suicide in India because of Monsanto and their collusion with the Indian powers. Unprecedented in human history!
Hundreds of thousands of farmers are committing suicide in India because of Monsanto and their collusion with the Indian powers. Unprecedented in human history!

Haider Rizvi, My Pakistani Brother

Haider RizviHaider Rizvi, a friend from Pakistan, suddenly passed away. He was visiting his family in Lahore.

I knew Haider since our student days at Columbia University’s Journalism School. Haider was a poet, an award-winning journalist, and a wonderful human being. In my thirty years in America, I have rarely seen a man who was so progressive, so secular, and so much in celebration of life. I have never seen him in a mood anything but happy and cheerful.

Haider and I both have always rejected the British partition of India, and condemned the global warfare and economic colonization. We have both worked against the anti-immigrant hate crimes that exploded in America after 9/11: in fact, Haider himself was a victim. We both hated the racists and bigots.

Both of us went through a lifelong trauma we carried deep inside — because of the partition, bloodshed and violence, and felt cheated by the rulers both in the subcontinent, and later in America, where we were forced to emigrate. Honestly, to call him Pakistani, or Pakistani-American, would be a grave injustice to his humanitarian philosophy, and an insult to his soul.

Just three days ago, I spoke with him on Facebook. And now, he is gone forever.

Haider Rizvi…Pakistani? He left so suddenly that I wonder if he is still around, looking for such major errors in my writing, only to admonish me in his warm, smiling way. He would perhaps say, laughing, “Partha…Partha…I love you man…but Pakistan? India? Cummon…gimme a break! No Pakistan…no India…only the world, bro…only the universe!” I can hear his deep, sombre voice, and his thunderous laugh…

“No Pakistan…no India…man, we are all equal. We are all one.”

In America as new immigrants, we do not have too many relatives or close friends we can call our family. This is an excruciating isolation few talk about, or care to know about. Over the years, we have rebuilt a society of our own — from zero, and especially for emotional and extrovert people like me, it is truly a lifeline. Without it, we die. I believe death is a part of life, and having come from a rough background and gone through many untimely and violent deaths, Lord Yama does not scare me anymore. He has failed. It is not the death that hurts me and saps my energy; rather, it is the loss of a precious society that I try to cling on to in this un-united states of alienation that does it.

This week, back to back, two precious members of this society were taken away by Yama: my Ph.D. advisor Walt Sundberg who was once like a father or a big brother (old-fashioned Indian mentality, I know), and my journalist-poet friend and colleague Haider. In a week, I have lost two members of my small American society.

Yama knows he can’t have the last laugh, and I will pull through. But he has done what he does the best: take some precious people away from life, untimely, without notice, and without any compassion for small people’s small happiness. He is no different from a hurricane, tsunami, bank robbery, war, riot, or rigged election. He knows he cannot win over our spirit and desire to live, for long.

Three days ago, Haider and I had this Facebook conversation.

Me: Bernie believers have misplaced their anger. They should have raided DNC and media from Day 1. Bernie is too modest.
October 27 at 4:56pm

Haider: Remember 2008? Dont worry.
October 27 at 5:00pm

Me: Rizabhi, you too? So naive!
October 27 at 5:14pm

Haider: Dear Partha, tell me what is the virtue in being smart?
October 27 at 5:15pm

Me: Nothing. We are eternal idiots, bro. Or, why would we hope for anything in the first place?
October 27 at 5:16pm

Haider: *****So we must celebrate our ability to celebrate life. No?*****

October 27 at 7:17pm

That was the last words he said to me.

Throughout his life, he has shown me how to celebrate life. No pain, no trauma, no violence, no war, no oppression, no lies, no cheating, and no failure could stop him from celebrating life.

I am sure, wherever he is now, he is making everyone around him cheerful, with his deep, thunderous laugh. A glass of whiskey…rum…vodka…red wine…well…we can’t imagine him laughing and chatting…without it, no?

“Love you…love you…love you…” Haider would say to everybody he knew.

We love you too, man. We love you dearly.

We shall celebrate your life.


Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York


Courtesy: Sophie de Bellemaniére
Courtesy: Sophie de Bellemaniére. Her article is here.

Remembering an American Teacher

Walter J. Sundberg, renowned mushroom biologist and my Ph.D. advisor. RIP, big man.
Walter J. Sundberg, renowned mushroom biologist and my Ph.D. advisor. RIP, big guy.

Dr. Walter Sundberg, my Ph.D. professor, just passed away.

He was my research guide at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. I will write more about him, and also about my four and a half years at that school. Right now, with a heavy heart, I am remembering him.

I am also remembering a few other wonderful teachers and colleagues.

When we were in Carbondale, Southern Illinois, I was only two and a half years old in America. The first couple of years were very difficult — both from emotional and financial pov’s…leaving India and Bengal and a very familiar, loving life behind. I had very little idea what America was truly like: its people, history, economics, geography, politics, media.

Yet, at 30, and with a small family, I was able to adjust and acculturate at SIU very quickly. And it was possible, not just because of my never-die-before-death roughness that came with me from Calcutta, but also because of the support and encouragement I got from some professors and fellow students.

Other than Walt Sundberg who found an almost-impossible winter scholarship for me, our then plant biology department chair Dr. Larry Matten (a renowned paleobotanist), and bryophyte giants Drs. Ray Stotler and Barbara Crandall-Stotler believed in me. Prof. Robert Mohlenbrock, a giant in the world of plant taxonomy and biodiversity. Their indulgence and warm, friendly association transformed me quickly from a shaky foreign student into a tough, confident foreign student, who was ready to bring out his best.

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. A precious memory.
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. A precious memory.

Unbelievable, in the first year at SIUC, I was elected the first-ever president of the new plant biology graduate student association, and with help from Matten and a couple of fellow grad students (Alice Long, Dave Carter, Ellen Cypher, Kevin Aikman, Kevin Schuette, Dave Breen, Nadia Navarrette, Fabianne Latortue…lost you guys forever), wrote the group’s bylaws. The long-lost academic brilliance that I once had in Calcutta also returned. Larry Matten hand-held me, and mentored me to be a student leader, and that too, a poor (really poor) Bengali-Indian in a reputable American university. My wife defended her dissertation at SIUC with critical help from Walt Sundberg, and our child had a very beautiful and peaceful childhood in the forgotten wilderness of the Mississippi Delta.

Professor Larry Matten, an incredible personality. A true mentor. A friend. And a renowned botanist.
Professor Larry Matten, an incredible personality. A true mentor. A friend. And a renowned botanist.

I have left science to answer my inner calling for human rights work, but I have never forgotten Walt, Hal Burdsall, Greg Mueller, Rytas Vilgalys, Ron Petersen, Roy Halling, John Haines, Tom Volk, Meredith Blackwell, Scott Rogers, Joseph Ammirati, Orson Miller, David Hibbett, John Hopple, Steve Lee, John Taylor, Rod Tulloss, Gary Lincoff, Karen Nakasone, Sabine Huhndorf, George Carroll, Andy Methven, Mark Cubeta, and the other great teachers, friends and colleagues. I proposed to Tom today that he talk to his colleagues in the world of fungal biology, and perhaps help start a fellowship or something in Walt’s name.

R.I.P., big guy.


Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York


Evergreen Terrace, our grad student family housing at SIU. We lived here for nearly three years.
Evergreen Terrace, our grad student family housing at SIU. We lived here for nearly three years.

Rooting for An Open, Inclusive and Moderate Hinduism

durga-pujaNote: Pratik Ghosh of Mauritius translated it from my Bengali oped published in Calcutta’s daily Ananda Bazar Patrika.

(Link to original Bengali article here.)


Nowadays nobody talks about these. Discussing religion or spirituality has become out of fashion. Yet the currently evolving events makes me broach the subject. In thirty years of my life in the U.S., only once I had the opportunity to visit home to celebrate the annual Durga Puja festivity, commonly known as “Pujo”. Thus only once I shared the unbound joy of the festivity, be part of that heartfelt intimacy and experienced the overwhelming joy of mingling in the sea of humanity. The remaining twenty-nine years, I spent abroad indifferently.

First few early years during the Pujo days, I would press the telephone hard on my ear to hear the sound of the drums from the Pujo ceremony held at my neighbour’s house in Kolkata. Not for long though. Ten minute call was worth a princely twenty-five American dollars that a poor student like me could ill afford. Those days there was neither the Internet nor Skype.

Later I had the opportunity to take active part in the Durga Pujo ceremony held at Albany, the capital of the New York state. Once I even became the President of the Bengali Club organizing the Pujo. A taste of home abroad, amidst the din and bustle of funfare, music and play, kedgeree and meat curry. Quenching thirst of milk by drinking shakes – a popular Bengali idiom!

Offering to the Deity. Humble. Harmless. Humane.
Offering to Deity. Humble. Harmless. Humane. Hinduism.

The last fifteen years have seen a great influx of Pujos, advent of many temples, display of the best of opulence at the Pujos of immigrants from West Bengal, advance collection of contributions for hosting the occasion. Even breaking out in fistfight over mutton curry. Bangladeshi pujos are relatively peaceful. They continue to be solemn, respectful and courteous with subscriptions being voluntary.

Seemingly, Joe Stranger in the U.S. knows little about our religion, traditions, art, music or literature. Yet the common American knows a lot more about the Christian, Jewish or Muslim faith. The former two are respected and the media covers them well. Plentiful of TV shows, innumerable essays on newspapers and magazines. Christmas, Easter and Yom Kippur are public holidays. With Islamist fundamentalism, Muslims are disliked and falling prey to racial discrimination. Following the 9/11, many innocent Muslims have been tormented, imprisoned and even deported. Still, people are aware of these three Abrahamic faith. Most people know about the Eid and Ramadan. Liberals are tolerant of all three.

In comparison, Hindu faith is pariah. Well, not even pariah. Simply not present. For most non-Hindus, Hinduism is about discrimination, casteism and Brahminical oppression of the untouchables. Hindus are taken as principally ritualistic or rather superstition ridden. The contribution of Hinduism to the world is hardly known. Only the experts and historians know about the Kailash, Khajuraho, Konark or Minakhshipuram. As if the present day India is built through British colonialism only. The Indian heritage is irrelevant and ignored. The western media do not carry any news about this four days long celebration of religion, art and music at the shores of the sea of humanity. From New York to Los Angles, from Chicago to Houston, the organizers of the Pujo too have no interest in presenting to the world the glory of our festivity. It is not told that this celebration is not a narrow religious practice but almost a way of life. They immerse themselves into nostalgia and the melancholy of their missed pleasure back home.

Another trouble prevails among the new generation of Hindu emigrants. As serious discourse on spirituality or religion isn’t “hip”, this generation, in void of true religious interest, has vastly become ultra-orthodox, racist and particularly, anti-Muslim. Neither they have heard of the liberal philosophy of Hinduism nor are they interested to engage. If this is the general trend, there is also a liberal strain who are busy establishing their secular identity by disowning Hinduism altogether. Consequently, Hinduism is squeezed in between the two, earning the undesirable tag of being a backward creed. Yet, there never was any organized form of Hinduism or anything like Hindu fundamentalism. The battle cry and the negativism of the BJP, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal, VHP, ABVP and the other members of India’s rightwing establishment – collectively known as the Sangh Family, isn’t the only identity of Hinduism.

The number of people to put across the notion that a Hindu can be tolerant and a secular citizen; who believes in independence of women; doesn’t have to agree with the caste-based divisions is reducing in alarming proportion. The Hindu religion that invites everyone else to be of one’s own; that tells the world to be a family; says “as many faith, that many ways”, is being gradually wiped out to oblivion. Who recognizes that the Hindu religion had been and is still the core faith of India that assimilated and absorbed effortlessly the Aryans, the Dravidians, the Chinese, the Sakas and the Huns, the Pathans and the Moghuls into one nation? Who knows that Saraswati, the goddess of learning, scripted the Vedas or the goddesses Durga, Kali and Jagatdhatri are the most powerful among all gods and the annihilators of evil forces? How many champions of even hardcore feminism know about this faith that places women power higher than all the rest?

Khajuraho Temple in India. Eroticism and art. Who knows, maybe, Hindu Talibans will destroy it all!
Khajuraho Temple in India. Eroticism and art, and major engineering from way back when. Who knows, maybe, Hindu Talibans will destroy it all!

While visiting the United States in the early twentieth century, Swami Vivekananda declared that “the Hindu religion does not consist in struggles and attempts to believe in a certain doctrine or dogma, but in realizing – not in believing, but in being and becoming.” Today we are made to forget these words of this socialist ascetic by fundamentalists who believe that he belongs to them and those on the other hand, who see him as a fundamentalist. Today the pluralism of Gandhi and Nehru only champions liberal values. As if liberalism is not inherent in Hinduism. As if Hindu religion and liberal values are perpetually contradictory. To believe in liberal Hindu values one doesn’t have to become a socialist or communist and yet one can be all of these.

During Durga Pujo, we must remind ourselves and the others about the liberal and humane traditions of Hinduism. We need to liberate Hinduism from the violent and hateful clutches of extremists. The facet of Hinduism must be promoted that makes Brahmin and the others share meals together; that congregates the Muslim and the Christian neighbours in spontaneous enthusiasm to celebrate Pujo. There we do not engage in the mayhem of destructing bridges but in building them to connect humanity through understanding each other.

If this bridge can be preserved and the World is made aware of it only then the way out of fundamentalism and extremism can be found. It is the responsibility of the centrist Hindus – in between the traders of hatred and politics of hate in the name of religion and the protagonists against religion and the non-believers. Indeed, my Hinduism is my identity. Similarly, it is my urgent duty to recognize and propagate the Hindu religion where there is no place for greed, hate, jealousy and animosity.

As a follower of that eternally liberal tradition of Hindu religion what other time than the Durga Pujo can be better to talk about it?

A Peaceful, Joyful and All-inclusive Vijaya Dashami to All. May Mother Durga bless us, and help us to go beyond today. Let us usher in a universal, progressive tomorrow.


Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York


Rabindranath Tagore, poet and philosopher. I think he sums it up all.
Rabindranath Tagore, poet and philosopher. I think he sums it up all.

A Few Observations on the Hillary-Sanders Debate

dem debate 1How exactly important was the debate earlier this week, and who won and who lost? What exactly is the meaning of winning and losing? Who decides the definitions and parameters of winning or losing in this type of a political debate?

Why was the debate aired on CNN in the first place? Why is big media with highly exposed connections to corporate America and the one percent so important to influence the minds of the ordinary people — to make their decisions?

There should be another debate on just that.

A noted intellectual, film actor, and highly respected man from India — who has lived in USA for a long time too — made a remark that my Facebook observations on the first Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday were “not as earthshaking” as I was making them out to be. I take his comments seriously. So, without wasting too much of your time, I will try to explain what my observations were.

I watched the entire debate. And here is what I thought. (Other than the fact that nobody mentioned Hillary’s connections with Wal-Mart, Monsanto, and Goldman Sachs — the real, global axis of evil.)

The Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders debate was historic for two reasons.

(1) that Hillary with help from CNN was able to flip from her longstanding pro-1% position to flop into a new, populist position. She knew she was lying.

And (2) Because of Bernie Sanders, for the first time, the average American men and women heard (a) how the Glass-Stegall Act was abolished [by Bill Clinton] that caused the 2007-2008 meltdown, (b) how corporate America controls U.S. Congress, (c) how private prison industries keep countless in American jails, how Sandra Bland was murdered, and how ALL of us are being spied on, (d) how Citizens United undermines the basic principles of democracy, (e) the fact that only in the U.S., health care is not affordable to all.

Black Lives Matter and Sandra Bland's death in jail.
Black Lives Matter and Sandra Bland’s death in jail.

Why do they have private prison industries in the first place, and why do people trade stocks of the prison industries to make money? Isn’t that information shocking too?

Also for the first time, perhaps, many Americans understood why on the big-ticket immigration reform issue, he did not support previous bills in Congress, as they had a guest worker program, which many of us always thought was synonymous with a government-validated slavery.

That was Bernie Sanders vis-a-vis Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night’s debate.

New York Times, Washington Post and CNN would not admit it, but they know millions of ordinary people have heard these facts for the first time, and took them seriously. So, they are busy manufacturing consent that Hillary won the debate. We may be stupid, but listen, we are not as stupid as you think we are. Bernie Sanders also showed how to be civil, generous, and transparent.

To the highly informed and elite, like my respected Facebook friend, the above pieces of information are definitely not earthshaking. But to most of us here in America, they are revealing, if not shocking. America’s big media almost never talk about these issues, in this candid and forthright way, the way Bernie Sanders did on Tuesday.

Ask any of my thousands of union worker students.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York


Super PACs and donors. You decide who works for you.
Super PACs and donors. You decide who works for you.

In Defense of Hinduism

Not that anybody truly cares, and life goes on without thinking much about anything, anymore.

Yet, a sudden outburst of emotion happens deep inside, perhaps due to the fact that an immigrant Hindu Bengali Indian in America did not get to experience the beautiful, colorful, artistic, fun, and spiritual, autumn festivities — Durga Puja and Diwali — for more than once in his thirty years of exile.

He did not return. He could not return. He did not become a part of that incredible, joyful surroundings in his West-maligned city of Calcutta and devastated, destroyed, torn-apart land of Bengal — a land of artists, poets, musicians, and all such fast-disappearing subtle, humanity spirits.

Today, in spite of being a seasoned, hard-shelled, and perhaps enlightened American immigrant with some worthwhile work accomplished, an empty, crying heart goes back to the place that he left back, a place that built his consciousness, and taught him how to love, and be loved, in the midst of all the poverty, adversity, and violence.

Durga Puja. A beautiful, four-day human mingling happens next week — in India, in Bangladesh, in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto or London, wherever Bengalis and Indians are — but nobody knows, and nobody cares.

We Hindus are media-branded as the pagan religion riddled with castes and superstitions. We never belonged. We never contributed to human civilization. Our temple artistry and engineering that stood hundreds of years, perhaps thousands, do not exist. We never had any science, art, commerce, or anything that they told us the West had invented, and generously donated to us. We are a dark hole in human civilization — they say.

The Abrahamic religions get eulogy, appreciation, and even notoriety, but they do get mainstream mention. But we exist in a vacuum, in complete ignorance and apathy of the elite and educated.

Worse, our own elite and educated have decided to reject and refuse to know a few thousand years of history, because to them, calling yourself a Hindu is synonymous with being a Hindu fanatic. To them, eating beef is something to brag about: to show the world of their class how secular and non-religious they are. I am not a traditional religious, but I have no reason not to belong to Hinduism, because it is my home. I find the deepest comfort in it. I do not believe we deserve the West’s disdain, or that of the Westernized Indian.

This disdain and contempt keep creating more fanatics, just out of insults. Those who do not turn extreme, weep in pain. It’s happening in Islam, and it’s happening in Hinduism. It’s happening in the West too.

I know there is a way to be spiritual, proud of your social and religious identity, without being a zealot. I know there is a way to bring together all the religions and faiths under a common umbrella of humanity and equality. I do not have the power of the media, money or politics. Therefore, my way is my way of writing and speaking, hoping it is working somewhere, some way — one receptive mind at a time.

Are you that receptive mind, willing to hear? I hope you are. I do hope so.


Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York



My Labor Union and Bernie Sanders

Thanks to the Labor MovementReally, to elect Bernie Sanders, the fiercest fight must be against the DNC and the liberal media. Because they are the real fiercest forces working for the one percent and corporate America. Storm them. Expose them. Strip them naked. NON-violently. If we can do it now, we have a chance. Really, if we can, we have a chance.

What have I learned from my union brothers and sisters over all these years?

(1) They are some of the smartest people, unlike what media and corporations want us to believe. Many of them may not have a college degree, but they are full of education with life’s real experience.

(2) They know their craft inside out, and take their jobs very seriously. On any day, their level of skill and training would outdo a non-union worker hands down.

(3) They are fun to be with, they are warm and respectful, and they have a real society, where people do not mind telling their buddies to stop smoking or drinking too much, or cut down on that beef or pork, for fear of some intrusion of privacy crap. They know their buddies, their families, and their children.

This is the last remnant of the American society that is perhaps our last hope for this country. And the one percent knows it. Therefore, they are trying to destroy it, undermine it, and making the younger generation become oblivious of their history.

People are fighting back against the tyranny and lies of the one percent, in an effective and organized way, wherever there is a strong union. A vibrant labor movement in Sweden, Iceland, Belgium, Greece, Spain or Germany has forcefully resisted, or tried to resist, the new global fascism unleashed by IMF, World Bank, Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart, Monsanto, Exxon, or GE. Or, war and prison industries. (Most of these corporations are supporting Hillary).

On the other hand, countries with insignificant union powers have failed. Such as USA or India. Even in UK, there is still a substantial labor density, which has stopped Monsanto and GMO, and elected a socialist to be the leader of the Labor Party.

If Bernie Sanders can storm into the Democratic Party’s pathetic status quo, and beat back against the Obamas and Clintons and Schumers and Feinsteins, it might jump start a new labor movement in America. And the working men and women — the 99 percent — will rise again to their old glory.

And if you haven’t noticed, this is my “speech,” coming out of another charged labor workshop on immigration, just on the eve of Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate.

People I work with are smart, brave, and fun to be with. I believe we are on to something, together.

Maybe, America’s 99 percent is rising.


Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn. Together, these two pro-99% leaders can change the world.
Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn. Together, these two pro-99% leaders can change the world.