Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The case much harder

This time it was 'Crime and Punishment' by Fyodor Dostoevsky that made me nervous.  It has now been a typical situation.  I visit to book stalls and book exhibitions; rather they pull me towards them.  I just go through the books with eager eyes.  I just go through the books knowing that I cannot afford buying them.  I just go through the books knowing that it's going to make me panicky at the end.  I can't help myself to keep away from the book stores and exhibitions.

I learnt the poem 'The Two Boys' by Mary Lamb in my college days.  The first boy, who cannot buy books, tries to read books at the bookstall itself.  The stall-man shout at him saying "You, Sir, you never buy a book, therefore in one you shall not look."  And the boy has to leave the stall with a sigh wishing if he had never been taught to read, then he should have no need of the old churl's books.  On another day, the poetess sees another boy, very much hungry by his appearance, looking at meat in a tavern larder, and she thinks this boy's case is surely harder and "No wonder if he wish he ne'er had learned to eat."

I am not fully convinced that the second boy's case was really harder.  For one who loves reading, it's no less dreadful not to get books than not getting food to a hungry.  If not getting food kills the body, not getting to read the long-wished books (after being so close to them) kills the Self.  The first boy's case was no lesser worse than the second one's.

One another poem I remember is 'Kondawada' (i.e. Dungeon) by a Marathi poet Daya Pawar.  Born in a dalit (then untouchables) family, he and his family always had to succumb to various socioeconomic stressors, and he had a thought that he expressed beautifully in the concluding lines of this poem--I could not translate it, just the wildest translation--'Better if I had remained as illiterate as a stone.  I would have happily done all that that other people do.  At least, I would not have to suffer this scorpion-sting-like pain.'

And here I wish--better if I had remained…--oh, nay…better if I had enough resources…

Thursday, December 17, 2009

David Diop: A voice of Negritude

Yesterday, I got to read the poem 'Africa' by a Senegalese poet David Diop, which is considered as a milestone in the history of West African literature.  In order to know more about the poet, I went on googling and was very much surprised to find very little or almost no information about him on net--just one or two poetry pages and one or two blog posts.  Even the English Wikipedia has no article on Diop, and I had to translate the French wiki page (that itself was a stub) to know a bit more about him.  Here is the essence of all that I could find.

David Diop was born to a Senegalese father and Cameroonian mother in the city of Bordeaux, France, in 1927.  He debuted writing poetry while he was still at school.  He was one a contributor to Leopold Senghor's (who would later become the first president of independent Senegal) anthology of poems published in French.  This was a major milestone in the history of black french literature as it put forth the movement of 'Negritude' by asserting the greatness of black people contrary to the white man's dismissal of them as primitive and uncivilized.

Diop's poetry talks about the glorious past of Africa and also recollects the untold sufferings and humilities endured by the Africans in the last few hundred years.  It also warns the Africans that political freedom will not essentially bring back their old glory and they have to work had to regain it or they will only get "the bitter taste of liberty."

Diop suffered from poor health for the most part of his life and died at a very early age of 33 in an air crash off Dakar, Senegal, in 1960.  His poetry will always be remembered as one of the keystones in the arch of African literature.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Paul Samuelson: Father of Modern Economics

I don't care who writes a nation's laws or crafts its advanced treaties, if I can write its economics textbooks.  ~Paul Samuelson.

The news came last night.  Paul Samuelson, whose work helped to form the basis of modern economics, died on December 13, 2009 at the age of 94 after a brief illness.  Paul Samuelson was best known for his work about making economics more practical and oriented towards problem-solving rather than just subject of academic discussions.  He was the first American to get a Nobel Prize for Economics in 1970.  The Nobel Prize Committee stated, while giving the award, that he has "done more than any contemporary economist to raise the level of scientific analysis in economic theory."  He is justly considered as 'Father of Modern Economics' for his contribution revitalization of the basic economics by Keynes.

Samuelson is mostly known for his epoch-making book Economics: An Introductory Analysis, which has been used as a standard textbook of economics worldwide over decades with a print of millions of copies with above 40 editions and reprints.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Paul Samuleson devoted his career, notes:  "The world is different today because he was with us for many years."  The world of economics too feels the same paying its modest homage to the economist of the economists.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Parsis in India: On the verge of extinction

While we are looking forward at the national census of 2010, a striking fact from the last census of 2001 caught my attention yesterday.  In the enormously growing trend of population, there is one community, which is literally on the verge of extinction compromising just 0.006% of the Indian population.  And it is not any tribal community from the islands of Great Nicobar, but a highly civilized community from the economical capital of India:  The Parsis.  This community, not only in India but also in all over the world, is undergoing a sharp quantitative decline and immediate measures are the need of time to save the rich civilization of the Zoroastrians and its people from being disappeared from the planet.

As per the 2001 census, the Parsi population in the country is 69,601 (33949 males and 35652 females) down from their population of 76,382 (37,736 males and 38646 females) in 1991.  This is a clear but unfortunate decline.

The Parsis have always been contributing their best for the Nation.  From the Great Old Man Dadabhai Naoroji to former Attorney-General of India Soli Sorabjee, along with many others, Homi Bhabha, one of the greatest scientist India has very produced,  Major General Manekshaw, one of only two Field Marshals of Indian Army, and many other who lived and are living for this country being a part of Indian Nation.  Now this is time for the Nation to save the community through immediate appropriate measures in the best of the Parsis.
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's bit more ghalibana now!

You may say, as Shakespeare said, and people often quote “What's in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet.” But don’t we have any attachment with the names, which give us our identity from birth to death and even after that? Don’t we expect people to use our name correctly and properly? Don’t we keep on pondering over the names of our beloved ones as a token of our love even we know that the names are only dry alphabets and are as different from those beloved ones as crocodile and cucumber? We do know that the names are merely names, and still we love them as we love their owners. Names work as the token of our beloved ones in our hearts. Not only the names of the living things, but also the names of nonliving objects, even the abstract ones, have some meanings in them that can make us happy or sad or anything.

But why I am telling all this to you now? It’s because I have been thinking over the name ‘Ghalibana’ for the last few days. I registered this name on blogger when I had been reading ‘Diwan-e-Ghalib’ and was very much impressed by Ghalib’s poetry. In that state of mind, I chose the name Ghalibana. I didn’t even know the exact meaning of the term, but knew ghalibana is widely used to refer something that is poetic. It is widely used as an adjective. Anything like that of Ghalib is ghalibana. I found the word very much ghalibana (poetic) in itself. I created the blog, but had nothing to write on it, so it remained idle for few months until I had an idea of combined blog of us three. I was not very much convinced about the success of this idea, so rather than starting a new blog, I used ‘Ghalibana’ for this purpose on an experimental basis. And it worked. It has been working more successfully than I had ever thought. And at this point, taking a variety of subjects on this blog in consideration, I had a thought that is the name ‘Ghalibana’ still suitable so that it can be continued forever? The blog is still poetic in its heart, and forever it will remain so, but there is also a vast material that does not seem to be poetic from any angle. So should we go on with the same name or think upon changing it?

I went on searching the exact meaning of ghalibana, but found no word ghalibana in Urdu dictionary. I did find ‘ghalib’, which means ‘probably.’ This meaning is far away from the poetic meaning of ghalibana. I again went on thinking why did Ghalib choose such a word as his takhallus? It certainly would not mean anything poetic in his days. He would certainly have the meaning ‘probably’ in is mind. He would certainly have some hearty attachments with the meaning ‘probably’, so that he gave up his real name ‘Asad’, and changed his pen name to ‘Ghalib’ though he had already started gaining popularity with his original name.

Ghalib loved introspection. He was a great critic of himself. Certainly, he had had respect for other people’s opinion—I think like this. You may have another point of view on this issue and probably yours may be a more appropriate one than that of mine—this philosophy of life would have prompted him to chose ‘Ghalib’ as his takhallus. I find this explanation very much possible one for his choosing such a pen name, which would be very awkward-looking in his days.

And what we do on ‘Ghalibana’? We put our point of views and expect counter-views from each other. In this way, we are going on with our great tradition of arguments and counter-arguments. It may not be ghalibana in a poetic manner, but it certainly is ghalibana in this broad manner. Coming on this conclusion, I assured myself that the name ‘Ghalibana’ is the most appropriate one for our blog. Now in this new light, this name worth more to me than it had been previously.