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Editorial

Dreams That Flow…

‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on…’

Shakespeare, Tempest, Act 4, Sc 1

Long ago, I had a dream… a dream where I was the sole player.

The dream changed to become more inclusive with the passage of time. It moved to create a new reality which was more fascinating than any other I could imagine. And you have all become a part of that reality for me — even though we all remain connected only in the virtual world — in a universe that links us seamlessly — in the reality created by Borderless Journal. Borderless has woven narratives together from all corners of the world and recorded a time which is in itself unique, not just because all time is, as Eliot says, unredeemable but also because the last six months have been one of an unmitigated battle to survive as a species against a virus that not only created a pandemic but mutates to infect more of mankind.

Today Borderless Journal completes six months of virtual existence. We started our journey on March 14, 2020, when the coronal heat had just started to scorch more of mankind. We started the journal with the hope of providing a space that would rise above all borders of politics, faith business to create a region to help move towards a positive mindset, above marginalised or divisive thought processes. We did not think of being unified by a pandemic! But by ideas.

And so many ideas were generated by writers through this year of travail for humankind, some related to the pandemic and some on other issues. Beautiful pieces emerged and helped Borderless become everyone’s journal — just as we all had dreamt.

When Borderless turned three months, we announced it would be a monthly. At six months, I want to add more to the journal by announcing two columnists — skilled acclaimed writers who have agreed to contribute on a monthly basis. Sunil Sharma starts a fiction column with us with a gripping story set in Mumbai — a narrative that leads you to uncover strange unknown secrets. Devraj Singh Kalsi starts a musing column with us with a funny nostalgic telling about his encounter with snakes and their charmers in his own home, which covers the theme I had set for this month — nostalgia and humour. Do not miss out on our two columnists this month.

The other story that will be published on a monthly basis are the Ghumi stories. Ghumi is an imaginary place created by the author, Nabanita Sengupta. She has six of them and each month, you can look forward to one. This month she shares with us a piece of nostalgia from 1984 — the riots around the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Another story by Bhavana Kunkalikar, an upcoming writer, covers a darker bit of history set during the 2008 terror attack at Mumbai. A senior journalist, Shevlin Sebastian, gives us another gripping read against violent and unsympathetic nature — a powerful read that assures if man can survive such violence, the virulence of the pandemic is just another episode in human history. Through all these stories we see the ascendancy of the human spirit which helps mankind cope with distress.

We have a lighter flavourful, nostalgic piece by Debraj Mookerjee on his trips into rural Bengal and another on the syncretic lore of Lucknow, the Lucknawi tehzeeb, brought to us by the founder of Bookosmia, Nidhi Mishra. And we have her and Archana Mohan to thank for not just Sara’s Selections but another thought generating musing by fifteen-year-old Shivam who concludes that “we all have to live together and in harmony”, inspiring divisive adults to unite under the banner of humankind. Bookosmia deserves kudos for giving us a huge access to the magical and imaginative kingdom of youngsters, which often has more wisdom than the adult realm. In our urge to simplify by classification, we forget that is pretty much what the Big Endians and Little Endians did in Gulliver’s Travels.

We have poetry from different parts of the world that is intense, some nostalgic, humorous and even, limericks. And we have our first poem from Korea by Dr Wansoo Kim, overriding the barriers that split the country in two after the second World War along the 38th parallel, pretty much around the time the Indian Subcontinent was split too. In Korea’s case it was ideologies based on ‘isms’ and in India’s case it was ‘religion’.

That Dustin Pickering brought out some of our pieces in his esteemed quarterly, Harbinger Asylum, in hard copy, is something that I feel very grateful for. I hope you have all got your copies of the quarterly. He has also generously contributed a literary essay trying to convince all of us that James Joyce is the writer of the hour. And we have Sekhar Banerjee talking of Lawrence’s utopia, Rananim – an interesting read, both essayists pleading for two different schools of thought being perfect for comprehending this age of dissonance! Interestingly Lawrence was born on 9/11, the day the New York towers tumbled taking millions of victims’ lives in a horrific , devastating attack of terror. While pieces touched on various dark issues even with the theme of nostalgia, none touched on this historic act of annihilation which changed the way we live and think. I wonder why? And we have another interesting essay on cozy novels by freelancer Soma Das, who finds these to be the most cathartic reads during the pandemic. An interesting bundle of essays!

This month we also carry an interview with the founder of an Albanian journal that tries to create a borderless world through poetry, Atunis Galaxy Poetry. The founder is none other than the gifted and established litterateur, Agron Shele, who kindly gave us some time.

Book reviews by Bhaskar Parichha, Meenakshi Malhotra, Rakhi Dalal and translations from various languages — Bengali, Marathi and Nepali — add to the colours of our oeuvre. We have a translation of a poignant Bengali story by the former Art’s Editor of The Times of India, Ratnottama Sengupta. I would list this one too as a must read.

There is always the mysterious more that I leave unmentioned to goad you on to explore our pages further. For, it is ultimately why we write — to be read. That is why I can never thank our readers enough for patronising us. I hope you all continue to find our journal interesting and gripping. Write to us if you feel we need to something different.

Have a fabulous journey through the September issue of Borderless Journal!

Thank you all for being a part of this fabulous dream.

Happiness and sunshine to all of you!

Mitali Chakravarty

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Editorial

Changes & Laughter

“Come, faeries, take me out of this dull house!

Let me have all the freedom I have lost…”

—William Butler Yeats, The Land of Heart’s Desire, 1894

Words from more than a century old play which could well voice the mood of 2020, the year that will go down in history as of a pandemic that not only connected the world but demanded a change in our way of life, perhaps even suggesting we evolve a new way of living. August is also always a happening month, heralding, at times, demanding changes — of season, of historic events that altered our way of life and thought. We tried to capture a whiff of this spirit in this month’s issue of Borderless Journal along with humour, another mood-changing, fay figment that breathes hope.

We start with the commemoration of an event which lasted a short time but changed the world forever — the seventy fifth anniversary of the Nuclear holocaust that ripped through the twentieth century, on 6th August 1945 at Hiroshima, Japan. It ended the Second World War and a way of life. The impact continues to stagger as we read in the interview with Kathleen Burkinshaw, the author of The Last Cherry Blossom and a survivor’s or hibakusha’s daughter. Archana Mohan reviewed her book for us. The book focuses on the story of Burkinshaw’s mother before and after the bomb blast. When I think of the staggered suffering of the survivors of the holocaust, the subsequent generations and the impact of that bomb on the world, I wonder if the coronal virus will change humanity and our world order in the same way. After all Bill Gates did say that future wars will not be with arms but against biological deviations.

The next and the last nuclear explosion during a war rocked Nagasaki three days later. On that date, 9 th August, two decades down the line, was born a nation that has become the gateway of all Asia to the rest of the world, Singapore. Celebrating Singapore’s 54 th birthday, Kaiyi Tan, a local author of dark fiction, takes us on a scintillating journey in quest of a new world beyond the reaches of a morose pandemic. Singapore, like America, gained its strength from immigrants. We have a thought-provoking piece from Pakistani immigrant author, Aysha Baqir. As she muses over this event , she gives a fleeting wistful glance towards another Independence Day on 14 th August, 1947, that of her home country, Pakistan, which was given a free reign just before India was born on 15 th August with a soulful, famous speech by the first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, ‘Tryst with Destiny’ . In that speech, he said: “…A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to new, when an age ends …” Are we at a similar point in history now — one wonders!

To jubilate India’s 74th Independence Day, we have a musing from Nishi Pulugurtha who pensively glances at present day India to pause and ponder over the future of the children growing up in these hard times. We have poetry around this, hovering around themes of war, refugees, partition and life as it is in Kashmir and Kolkata by established writers like Paresh Tiwari, Laksmisree Banerjee, Mosarrap Khan, Gopal Lahiri and youngster Ahmed Rayees.

From history, we move to humour, a much-desired commodity in the current cacophony of darkness. We start with fun poetry by Vatsala Radhakeesoon, Santosh Bakaya, Aditya Shankar, Dustin Pickering, Sunil Sharma and many more; move on to limericks, humorous stories and musings by a number of writers, including surprises from Sohana Manzoor and Devraj Singh Kalsi.

Then we have our usual variety of reviews, poetry and stories. We carry the protest poetry of Melissa Chappell which she wrote after protesting what she felt was flawed and wrong. Hat’s off to her courage — a true protest poet!

On our pages also is Meenakshi Malhotra’s review of a book which had been on the top ten of the best seller lists for ten weeks. Avik Chanda, the author of this historical narrative — Dara Shukoh: The Man who Would be King, was kind enough to do an essay for us rounding up the current outlook for jobs in India. We also had more essays by Dustin Pickering and Bhaskar Parichha.

Bookosmia, Nidhi Mishra and Archana Mohan have again kindly hosted a lovely young people’s selection for us as usual. For all the contributors I have mentioned, so many remain unnamed in my inadequate listing here. We have a fabulous collection awaiting readers, who are indispensable to our survival.

I would like to offer them a buffet of laughter and tears in Borderless Journal. A mixed oeuvre awaits their palate.

Best wishes,

Mitali Chakravarty,

Borderless Journal

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Editorial

A Paean for Equity

Hello World!

Borderless Journal is back with its first monthly edition. It has more than fifty posts for you to enjoy from all over the world and a children’s section selected by Ms Sara’s creators. Filled with poetry, stories, musings, interviews, reviews and essays, it has something for everyone to savour.

We have to thank Dustin Pickering on our editorial board for giving contributors space in his esteemed hard copy quarterly, Harbinger Asylum. And Nidhi Mishra and Archana Mohan of Bookosmia for giving us lovely reads from Ms Sara’s friends in our young people’s selections. We have an interview with them on our pages to explain what their company, Bookosmia, is all about. Another interview that will be of interest to all of you is with Binu Mathews of Countercurrents.org, an online presence which garners one million views a month! His publication explores all new perspectives and hosts Borderless Journal’s articles every now and then. Countercurrents.org voices protests for a more equitable, more humanitarian world like we do at Borderless Journal.

In quest of a better world, Aysha Baqir, a novelist and activist, brings out the plight of a young girl in her letter to Zohra, an eight-year-old domestic worker who was beaten to death in Pakistan on May 31st, 2020. There has been no concerted movement to resolve the plight of child labour the way there has been of the expanding movement to end differences in skin colour which are just like the colours in nature. An inability to comprehend that, never ceases to amaze me. Ratnottama Sengupta, an eminent senior journalist, has highlighted through her essay, ‘Wisdom of the Wild’, that animals care for their youngsters, even if the fledglings belong to a different species. But looking at Zohra’s case study, one wonders if humans are doing the same?

Echoing the plight of children in a world ravaged with distorted values based on ‘gentility’ and wealth and giving it historicity is an essay by academic Sohana Manzoor, on children in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Reading the two pieces one after another, one is left wondering how much we have reformed the social ills that existed in the Victorian era. In Borderless, we look at trends in human development. Have we really gone up the ladder of change towards a better world which will be seamless and borderless in its intent, where being majority or minority does not lead to violence, ostracisation and victimisation?

It is also Emily Bronte’s birth anniversary on July 31st. We like to commemorate great authors and major events on our pages. Another major event we covered is the American Independence Day celebration on July 4th, 2020. A powerful essay by Dustin Pickering that talks of the American dream as opposed to the American reality today. One can glimpse more of the issues faced by the human race in an interesting story by Sunil Sharma named after a great in literature, Baudelaire. We have a lively rounding up of the corona situation in Nishi Pulugurtha’s roundup which gives us an unusual glimpse of the value given to divine intervention in the backwaters of Bengal with the evolution of a Corona puja.

An academic and gender studies researcher, Meenakshi Malhotra, has looked into why we have a nomenclature that draws up a border around writings by women. We have reviews by Bhaskar Parichcha, Gopal Lahiri, Rakhi Dalal and Debraj Mukherjee on recently released books. Devraj Singh Kalsi continues with his distinctive narratives on authors who feel unknown. Poetry with both major names and newcomers, musings, essays, stories liven the pages of this journal that unites with its ideas and ideals across all borders.

I could go on describing each individual piece for the joy it has been in reading and posting them for all of our wonderful readers. Though we have many more stories, translations, essays and poems from more than a dozen countries and covering diverse issues, I will leave you to enjoy our fare rather than describe each piece individually. Thank you all for giving me the time to sort and organise our fare. Wish you a wonderful read till next month, when I hope we can continue to celebrate our hope for a better world with laughter and sunshine.

Best wishes,

Mitali Chakravarty

Founding Editor, Borderless Journal

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Editorial

In Search of Human Excellence

Good morning world! 

Borderless Journal today completes three full months of its virtual existence and will take a plunge towards a refreshed image. We hope to be a monthly from now on to serve you better, to do more justice to our submissions which continue to be overwhelming in numbers.

Meanwhile, in our pages, we have tried to connect mankind with ideas and thoughts that move away from borders drawn to divide humans — we want a world that transcends race, colour, creed or nationality. The only thing we look for is connectivity and coherence. We want to see the best in humans, what makes us strong and what carries us forward into a world that is not fragmented by fears, anger, hatred and marginalised thoughts.

Marginalisation also creates borders because there are humans within the border who for some reason are seen as different from humans without the border. I am not thinking of equality but of equity, where we can all feel we have been treated with justice. 

These few months we had writing not just on COVID 19, lockdowns, quarantines and opening of lockdowns, but also stories of major natural calamities like the Amphan, race riots like that of Floyd’s and more. Perhaps, the latest riots in America, will make us all realise that in every country, every culture, we have our own Floyds. And to acknowledge that we are of the same flesh and blood as the marginalised or underprivileged masses is a mammoth task for all mankind. We need to rise above things that divide and fill the world with love, kindness and tolerance.

Mark Twain in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) has the protagonist who travels back in time to Camelot observe prisoners from the underprivileged masses waiting to be sentenced and he thinks:” …they are white Indians.” Indians, meaning the Red Indians who had their housing and way of life shrunk into reserves in the same year in Minnesota the book was published — 1889. In 1887, their land had been taken away by the Dawes Act signed by the US President Cleveland. Was it just — taking away the land in which they had lived for centuries? Was it just to hate someone for having a different culture or a different way of life anywhere in the world at any point in history? Was it just to have slaves? Was it just to kill Floyd? Was it just to kill in the name of creed, or on the basis of what people eat? Was it just to give people no work, no food and no transport and have them walk till they dropped dead?

To me, all these are Floyds of the modern-day world, people killed in mob violence or for following different food habits, lifestyles, cultures or beliefs. History speaks only the truth. It is heartless and as Churchill said, “History is written by the victors.” And the victors to perpetrate their hegemony, create margins for those they dominate — the ruled become the marginalised and non-marginalised as that makes it easy for power brokers to fan differences to maintain their own strength. In the colonial period, they called it divide and rule.

Toni Morrison, another lady with a great deal of wisdom, said in an interview, “Race is a construct, a social construct.” History, Yuval Noah Harari, and more have shown this assertion by Morrison to be a fact. All of these are man-made constructs. 

I have a very basic question: if we can accept the different colours in nature, why can we not find it in our hearts to accept differences not only of skin colour but of beliefs, of creeds and of food habits?  These are questions that Borderless seeks to explore, to find the weaves that connect mankind to help move towards a richer tapestry of humanity. This is just the start of the journey and we can all make it together.

Sara’s Selections in the loving nurture of Bookosmia hopes to integrate these larger values into the younger generation. 

Let us all lead by example with exemplary writing, with exemplary choice of subjects and with exemplary writing skills. We are open to comments and feedback by readers who are as necessary to the existence of writers and journals as air to breathe and live.

Welcome to an exploration of a world beyond borders! 

Mitali Chakravarty

Founding Editor,

Borderless Journal

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Editorial

As Time Flies…

Hello World!

And what a lovely and magical life it is despite the COVID 19 — which I am sure we will battle, even if the path seems long. Meanwhile, we remain connected in this virtual world of friendship, harmony and giving!

We completed another month! And what a month it has been — the two greatest bards celebrated their birthdays — Shakespeare and Tagore. We carried an essay on one and a discussion between two greats of modern Indian literature on the other! Other than that, more essays, stories, musings, translations and poetry took our readers globe-trotting. We are doing our best to seamlessly create a world of ideas in which we can drift effortlessly and find a whole new world where we can all meet to have exchanges beyond borders drawn by the exigencies of history, politics, economics, greed and more.

Writers are doing such a wonderful job of connecting us with similar concerns worldwide. Our experiences with COVID 19 and quarantine actually unite us in a large way as humans. One of our story writers has plucked the heart strings of readers across oceans on distant lands and received many encomiums for it. We all seem to be getting more linked by the pandemic caused by the corona virus, giving all of us time to pause and reflect on the commonality of human sufferings, as shown by the narratives from different parts of the world in the journal.

We continue to be fortunate to find many of our pieces a second home in Countercurrents.org. I am also happy to announce we have been listed again as one of the top places for submissions in an Indian site this time.

We have more happening here with all the action from our dynamic editorial board. Dustin Pickering, the editor-in-chief of Harbinger Asylum, on our editorial board, has suggested a promotion for us in his quarterly this July. So, some of our authors will be republished in hard copy from USA in the summer edition of Harbinger Asylum.

We are also starting a young persons’ section from the end of this month. This will be organised by Bookosmia, a children’s publisher. The founder of this popular children’s publishing concern, Nidhi Mishra, also on our editorial board, will be giving us the best from her blog for youngsters and we will exhibit it in our new section called Sara’s Selection.

We want this to be a family friendly journal and to nurture young talents along with established writers. You can check our submissions if you want to publish in the young person’s section, which will cater to aspiring writers under eighteen. We have an email — sara@bookosmia.com – which will take you straight to Bookosmia and the submission of the under-eighteen’s section of both BookOsmia and ours. We will be publishing only a few selected pieces from their blog and others could just be featured in Bookosmia, the blog run by the publisher.

We welcome children from all over the world to write in to Sara. The tie has been announced by Bookosmia in The Hindu, a well-known and established newspaper in India. I am attaching a link to the news below*.

We are overwhelmed with support from all of you and are looking into the periodicity of the Borderless Journal and will be announcing more changes next month on June 14th.

As we move forward in the spirit of Ubuntu or “oneness to humanity”, towards a world filled with love and kindness, where vibrancy and positivity can wash away darkness and hatred, where the freedom of speech does not descend to narrow abuse and anger, marginalisation and boundaries, I welcome you all to write in to me if you feel we need to expand our horizons further.

As I bid you adieu for another month, I hope you will keep reading our journal and writing for us.

Best wishes,

Happiness and Peace,

Mitali Chakravarty, Founding Editor, Borderless Journal.

*Click here to read about Bookosmia and our plans in this report in The Hindu.

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Editorial

Let’s Celebrate in the Spirit of Ubuntu

The date Borderless Journal completes its first month, 14th April, coincides with Poila Baisakh, or the first day of the Bengali new year, the Tamil New year, Sinhalese and Nepali New year, the second day of Songkran, the Thai new year (April 13- 15), the start of Bohag Bihu (an Assamese festival commemorating harvest and the new year, April 14 to 20), the second day of the Indian new year, Baisakhi. Let us celebrate along with the journal’s first month birthday this profusion of festivals, which would have been big with celebration for many but shrinks to online greetings because of the pandemic. Hey, did I use the word ‘shrink’? It actually grows bigger because there are so many more of us celebrating the occasion together in a virtual world.

The good news is though the pandemic continues to infect the globe, some areas look hopeful with the curve flattening. The way this virus has unified mankind is unprecedented. Bill Gates has acknowledged this in an interview with CNBC by just mentioning 7 billion doses of the vaccine… thus gathering all mankind into one-fold, beyond all boundaries. It was wonderful to have a world thought leader reach out to the whole humanity, even if for a moment — the thought of all of us being considered as part of an aggregate made for a feeling of inclusion.

This is the inclusivity that one hopes to highlight in Borderless Journal.

Today, borderlessjournal.com completes a month of its existence in our virtual world connecting all of us beyond all borders. Hopefully, it will be a virtual journal for all seven billion people that populate this wonderful green planet we call the Earth. We have travelled with writers to various parts of the world — many still remain unexplored. When some of the contributors ask me, which country does the journal belong to — I tell them — we are where you are. When astronauts watch the Earth from outer space, what do they see? What do clouds see?

The first month of the journal has been promising with many writers sharing their narratives — poetry, essays, short stories and musings. Readers have come back to us with wonderful feedback. I hope you will keep visiting us. Our editorial board has been active sending writers and their own writing too. They are all fabulous writers much like all of you. The resultant effect is Countercurrents.org has offered content sharing — where we exchange content. A number of our essays and musings have been republished in Countercurrents.org. A couple of articles have been quoted, one was in an Urdu journal with credits acknowledged to Borderless. One of our articles was also republished in another online journal with an acknowledgement to us. We also discovered our name in a Canadian listing (Mississauga Writers’s Group) for submissions — a pleasant surprise. We are crossing borders without a passport!

We have had a good start — perhaps you can call it a beginner’s luck, or will it continue?

That depends on all of you! Because this journal is yours, ours and belongs to everyone. I wish, I dream of 7.8 billion humans living in equity with access to food, potable water, housing, education and internet — reading and contributing to Borderless Journal in the spirit of “oneness to humanity” or ubuntu.

Let’s make it happen!

Mitali Chakravarty

Founding Editor, borderlessjournal.com

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Editorial

Hello World!

Welcome to Borderless — a journal that hopes to role out an invitation to all those who are willing to venture into the vastness of wonders, ideas and creativity. It seeks out thoughts that can soar above borders not just like birds but also like clouds. Clouds waft without pausing at differences, join together and bring water to the parched lands across all terrains as do writers and readers who look beyond differences. The writing will be like raindrops that create a downpour of love, tolerance, kindness, wit and humour. With a little soupçon of such values, we hope to unite into a world that can override differences, hatred, angst, violence and COVID-19. 

In these pages, we welcome hope for a future that makes us happy; we welcome all writers of all ages to come and revel in words and ideas and we invite readers to come and read and give us comments and write to us about what they would like to read at editor@borderlessjournal.com.  They are also welcome to try their hands at writing. In a world forced to segregate for the sake of survival, this is a way to connect with ideas. 

We start the journal with some input from the team from the editorial board, constituting a few writers who are outstanding and eminent in their own areas. You can read about the team in ‘About Us’ and savour some of their work under the different subheads: essays, reviews, stories and poetry. 

Dustin Pickering, somewhat of a rebel poet, a Pushcart nominee and a brilliant essayist, columnist and publisher, has contributed a scholarly essay on ‘Poets as Warriors’ — I love the idea even though I differ with some of his surmises. Maybe a war of words can convince people eventually that war with weapons is not the best way to maintain peace. Meenakshi Malhotra, a specialist in gender studies, bring us an essay on whether solidarity between women is possible. What do you think?

Namrata, a writer who hides behind fuchsia curtains and spills out lovely reviews, has a tempting review on a book edited by Sarita Jenamani and Aftab Husian — Silences between the Notes. Curious? Read and find out.

Sarita Jenamani, the PEN Austria general secretary, herself has contributed poetry — like the tinkling of crystal chandeliers evoking an evening in Vienna where she lives. Sohana Manzoor, the literature page editor in Daily Star, Bangladesh, has contributed a story, the title of which brings a smile — ‘Parul and The Potato Prince’ — reminded me a little of an O’ Henry in a Bangladeshi setting! 

Nidhi Mishra, a successful publisher of children’s stories, rolled out a fabulous piece on corona that hovers between an essay and a slice of life. It is in a grey zone — and that is why there is a new name for it — Musings. In Musings, you will also find Debraj, a popular columnist and an associate professor in Delhi University, with an unusual piece — again hovering between multiple genres. That is partly also what we hope do in Borderless, we explore genres and non-genre based writing to create new trends. 

Read it all and tell us what you think.

I look forward to Borderless as ‘your’ journal — a site that hosts contributions and looks for readership from all of you! 

Thank you all for your goodwill and friendship. 

Welcome again to a world without borders!

Mitali Chakravarty