Categories
Index

Borderless July, 2021

Editorial

Reach for the Stars… Click here to read.

Interviews

In conversation with an American poet, Jared Carter, who has received multiple encomiums like the Walt Whitman Award, the Poets’ Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship and much more. He tells us of his life and how he writes a poem. Click here to read.

In conversation with eminent academic and translator, Radha Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Translations

Two songs by Tagore written originally in Brajabuli, a literary language developed essentially for poetry, has been translated by Radha Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Balochi poetry of Akbar Barakzai translated by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Korean Poetry written and translated to English by Ihlwha Choi. Click here to read.

Poetry in Bosnian from Bosnia & Herzegovina, written and translated by Maid Corbic. Click here to read.

Translation of ‘Dushomoy’ by Tagore, from Bengali to English by Mitali Chakravarty on behalf of Borderless Journal. Click here to read and listen to Tagore’s voice recite his poem in Bengali.

Poetry

Click on the names to read

Suzanne Kamata, Lorraine Caputo, Rhys Hughes, Kinjal Sethia, Emalisa Rose, Shahriyer Hossain Shetu, John Herlihy, Reena R, Mitra Samal, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Shubham Raj, George Freek, Marc Nair, Michael R Burch, Jay Nicholls, Jared Carter

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In The Scottish Homer: William McGonagall, Rhys Hughes assays into the times of this bard known as the best of worst poets! Click here to read.

Nature’s Musings

Penny Wilkes takes us Down the Path of Nostalgia with a mix of old and new photography and prose and poetry on how a decade after the end of the Second World War, she started her love affair with photography and nature. Click here to read

Musings/Slices from Life

Summer Studio

Jared Carter writes of a childhood in mid-twentieth century America. Click here to read.

Three Men at the Lalbagh Fort

Marjuque-ul-Haque explores Mughal Lalbagh fort left unfinished in Dhaka, a fort where armies were said to disappear during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. Click here to read.

A Stroll through Kolkata’s Iconic Maidan

Nishi Pulugurtha journeys with her camera on the famed grounds near Fort William, a major historic site in Kolkata. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Managing Bookshelves, Devraj Singh Kalsi cogitates with wry humour while arranging his book shelves. Click here to read.

Adventures of the Backpacking Granny

Sybil Pretious concludes her adventures this round with a fabulous trip to Generous Indonesia, a country with kind people, islands and ancient volcanoes. Click here to read.

Essays

Peace: Is it Even Possible?

Candice Lousia Daquin explores war and peace through history. Is peace possible? Click here to read.

Corona & the Police

Subhankar Dutta reflects on the role the police has taken in a pandemic torn world. Click here to read.

A Prison of Our Own Making

Keith Lyons gives us a brief essay on how we can find freedom. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

In Richard Hughes: The Reporter Who Inspired Ian Fleming, Bhaskar Parichha showcases a journalist who wrote globally, spicing it up with humour. Click here to read.

Stories

Flash Fiction: Horizon

Tan Kaiyi evokes the spirit of the Singapore National Day amidst the darkness of spread by a deadly virulence. Click here to read.

Flash Fiction: Ice Storm

Niles Reddick tells a weatherman’s story with a twist of humour. Click here to read.

Mr Roy’s Obsession

Swagato Chakraborty spins a weird tale about an obsession. Click here to read.

Magnum Opus

Ahsan Rajib Ananda shows what rivalries in creative arts can do. Click here to read.

Adoption

A poignant real life story by Jeanie Kortum on adopting a child. Click here to read

The Literary Fictionist

In Scarecrow, Sunil Sharma explores urban paranoia. Click here to read.

Book Excerpt

The Parrot’s Tale, excerpted from Rabindranth Tagore. The Land of Cards: Stories, Poems and Plays for Children, translated by Radha Chakravarty, with a foreword from Mahasweta Devi. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

A Sense of Time by Anuradha Kumar reviewed by Rakhi Dalal. Click here to read.

Murder in Daisy Apartments by Shabnam Minwalla reviewed by Gracy Samjetsabam. Click here to read.

The Third Eye of Governance–Rise of Populism, Decline in Social Research by Dr N Bhaskara Rao reviewed by Bhaskar Parichha. Click here to read.

A Special Tribute

Dilip Kumar: Kohinoor-e-Hind

In a tribute to Bollywood legend Dileep Kumar,  Ratnottama Sengupta, one of India’s most iconic arts journalists, recollects the days the great actor sprinted about on the sets of Bombay’s studios …spiced up with fragments from the autobiography of Sengupta’s father, Nabendu Ghosh. Click here to read.

Categories
Editorial

Reach for the Stars

Courtesy: Creative Commons
“Nothing can be unconditional: consequently, nothing can be free.”


“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” 

-- George Bernard Shaw,  Maxims for Revolutionists, Man & Superman (1903) 

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), a great writer and playwright, used these epigrammatic lines to bring focus on what people thought was liberty or freedom from oppression, from regimes that were dictatorial. While discussing concepts of freedom, one does wonder if political freedom solves all humane issues, occasions we celebrate with great aplomb, like the birth of a nation.

This month started with the observance of July 4th, the date of the American Revolution in 1776 and the publication date of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in 1855. In between these two years, in 1789, ten days down the line, on July 14th, another significant occurrence has been handed down by history to be celebrated as the Bastille Day— the day prisoners were freed from Bastille, a major event that led to the overthrow of the insensitive monarchy in France, a symbolic resurgence of the common, exploited man that has often been seen as an inspiration for later uprisings to reinforce the concept of democracy or liberté, égalité, fraternité.

As we move forward in time, towards August, one wonders if liberty attained by these means was good for all fellow humans? France was part of the Allied Forces that with America taking the lead dropped not one but two atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945, to end the Second World War. Did the ends justify the means? Reflecting the cry and suffering of these victims, we have poetry from Suzanne Kamata, a well-known writer from Japan. Michael Burch on the other hand has shared poetry with us which shows how the nuclear programme continued unrepentant despite the devastation it caused. One must give kudos to the descendants of the victims of the nuclear blast that they have forgiven the perpetrators, admitted their own hand in the Second World War and moved ahead. In that spirit, we have an essay on peace by Candice Louisa Daquin, who joins the Borderless team as a writer-in-residence.

We have much happening in poetry this time with an interview of American poet Jared Carter, a recipient of number of awards and fellowships, including the Walt Whitman Award and the Guggenheim fellowship. He walks us through how he created the poem ‘Yeti’ (first published in the May edition of Borderless) and talks of the impact of artifacts from China and India on his own thought processes, the impact of Du Fu (712-770) and much more. We have a poem in Du Fu’s style this time by George Freek and an interesting poem with a Chinese title by Carter, a title that can have multiple connotations and yet each seems to fit the poem perfectly.

Rhys Hughes has brought humour into our pages with both his poetry and essay on William Mcgonagall, who bore the sobriquet of the worst writer in the world through his life and had things thrown at him when he read his poetry in Dundee. Yet, his work survived the beatings, and he lives on known as the ‘Scottish Homer’.

More poetry by Singaporean poet Marc Nair gives us a glimpse of the little island as viewed by someone who has grown up on it. Poetry is always multi-hued, and we have Lorraine Caputo transport us to a Garífuna village in Honduras. Penny Wilkes takes us ‘Down the Path of Nostalgia’ with a mix of old and new photography, prose and poetry on how almost a decade after the end of the Second World War, she started her love affair with photography and nature. It hovers between poetry and musings, and this time we have a rare musing by Jared Carter too. Devraj Singh Kalsi continues cogitating with wry humour while arranging bookshelves. We also have the backpacking granny visiting Indonesia. Post sharing this trip, our granny — Sybil Pretious — plans a little break from publishing to complete her memoirs.

A riveting flash fiction by Kaiyi Tan celebrates the spirit of conquest in these dark times, weaving into the pandemic lore the quest for personal freedom. Stories this time carry a real life one by Jean Kortum on adoption — her own struggle. But then, stories can be real or unreal – draw a bit from both to reflect bigger truths or create alternates that sink into the human mind as a perceived reality and leave an imprint deep inside the heart, like that of Niles Reddick. My conviction is that some lived experiences of writers seep into each story, whether it is from Bangladesh or India or by our literary fictionist, Sunil Sharma. His narrative continues infused by suspense.

We have a complete translated story of Tagore by Radha Chakravarty as our book excerpt this time. ‘The Parrot’s Tale’, ostensibly part of a children’s collection, reflects Tagore’s response to conventional schooling — a reason for him to start Shanti Niketan perhaps. She has also shared two of her translations of Rabindranath’s songs from Bhanusingher Padabali (1884, Bhanusingh’s verses). Chakravarty generously consented to an interview and has given us a glimpse of her journey as a translator and critic.  We also have translated a long poem by Tagore on our pages, a poem that inspires hope, though it was named Dushomoy (1897, Bad Times) finally. The original name had been Swarga Patthe (On the Path to Heaven) as can be seen from a page in his diary. We have been fortunate in finding a recording of his voice reciting the poem in Bengali and the print of a sample page of the manuscript bearing his signature.

We continue with Akbar Barakzai’s poetry translated by Fazal Baloch from Balochi – this time addressed to his daughter reminding for some reason of Nehru’s Letters from a Father to his Daughter — a book I read as a child.  In addition, we have translations from Korea and Bosnia & Herzegovina, from where the young poet, Maid Corbic, has taken up the concept of freedom of the self and of the nation, both together.

Keith Lyons from New Zealand in his very brief essay has quoted American novelist William Faulkner, “We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” And perhaps we need to remember this if for no other reason, then, just to maintain our own sanity in these strange, almost unreal times as we attempt to unite as humankind to free ourselves from an unknown and unfathomable virus.

In a more sombre note, last week, untroubled by the virus, a victim of cancer, Bollywood legend Dileep Kumar, aged 98, breathed his last. Ratnottama Sengupta adds an unusual colour to the Borderless Journal with her tribute to this hugely acclaimed actor. In the process, she unfolds for us a brief history of the Indian cinema, and a glimpse of a world that transcends all man made constructs in quest of perfection.

We have an interesting set of reviews this July. Rakhi Dalal has reviewed Anuradha Kumar’s riveting short story collection, A Sense of Time. A murder mystery for young readers, Murder at Daisy Apartments by Shabnam Minwalla, has been reviewed by Gracy Samjetsabam. The Third Eye of Governance–Rise of Populism, Decline in Social Research by Dr N Bhaskara Rao, reviewed by Bhaskar Parichha, seems to be a non-fiction that looks forward to bridging gaps between academia and the real world, a truly felt need. Parichha has also given us an essay on a man who inspired Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, to make him a part of his lore, a journalist who moved around all of Asia with equal aplomb and a sense of humour – a truly global citizen called Richard Hughes.

I want to thank all our wonderful contributors for making this edition a reality. And readers, we leave you to explore the unknown… like that place we call outer space. A huge thank you again to not only all our wonderful contributors, our faithful readers but also to the fabulous Borderless team scattered across the world.  

Before I wind up, a little bird trills a song of hope in my ear. Business tycoons have started stepping into the mysterious void of space to eventually – let us hope — create affordable travel for common man, though it has started off as an expensive proposition. Will this be an industry that will generate more jobs on and off Earth and find new places for man to inhabit? After all, when George Bernard Shaw wrote his plays and essays, we had yet to cross the frontiers beyond Earth, had never even thought of flying across the world in budget airlines or mining moons!

Will we have a new world, a new outlook and a new set of hopes and aspirations as we stretch the frontiers of our home planet?

Wish you all a wonderful month of reading and thinking.

Best wishes,

Mitali Chakravarty

Categories
Review

The Third Eye of Governance

Book review by Bhaskar Parichha

Title: The Third Eye of Governance

Author: Dr N Bhaskara Rao

Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books, 2021

Populism may be   a decent expression for politicians; but social science researches would give a damn to the way government policies are planned shorn of any rationality and wisdom. Research is key to whatever social development one talks about because that gives an edge to the expected change. This book takes forward precisely the idea of good research and the downsides of not having an investigation into the way governments’ function.

The Third Eye of Governance–Rise of Populism, Decline in Social Research by Dr N Bhaskara Rao is an eye-opening book because it is written by a pioneer of social research in India. Being  Founder Chairman of the Centre for Media Studies (CMS) and of Marketing and Development Research Associates (MDRA), Rao  built up the equally prestigious Operations Research Group (ORG) as its CEO.A member of the National Population Policy Committee and one who reorganized the media units of the Information and Broadcasting ministry, Rao has authored a couple of other books : Social Impact of Mass Media, A Handbook of Poll Surveys in Media , Sustainable Good Governance, Development and Democracy, Citizen Activism in India and The TRP Trick: How Television in India Was Hijacked. 

A first-of-its-kind history and analysis of social research in India from Independence to the present, this book discusses India’s most important research projects, and the policies based on them. That includes the family planning programme, the five-year plans and the decennial census which has been put on hold because of the pandemic. 

According to Dr Rao, there has been a steady decline in social research with the rise of populism in Indian politics, and there is an utter disregard for transparency and accountability. The volume shows how data, statistics, analysis and research have become politically sensitive and belligerent. Rao argues that if the current refrains about development and progress are backed by applied social research, India can reach new heights in democracy, development, and governance.

Forthright to the core, Rao says with political parties dominating policies, there has been a greater emphasis on winning elections. And this trepidation has to become the priority for research. He contends that research is a distinctive form of enquiry — and that is why he calls it ‘third eye of governance’. The book is a valuable investigation of public policy successes and failures of governments led by different PMS, from Nehru and Indira Gandhi to Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi. 

Writes Rao: “Populism is an outlook of leaders, and a methodology and strategy of those in power to control, command, and exert their authority. What we are witnessing today is an altogether new populism where ideology has little importance. The new instruments of communication and network have changed the course so much that populism is being made to appear or sound synonymous to democracy and development, when in fact it can turn out be a countervailing phenomenon.

“What is being regarded as a boom may turn out to be a bubble. This depends on the leaders’ grip or control over the instruments of administrative authority or political power. In populism, the difference between ends and means becomes blurred.”

Terming the new wave of populism sweeping across the nation ‘rhetoric-centered’, he argues: “It purports people as masses but is led by a few who are masters of rhetoric. Here, institutions matter less, as do future implications and research and feedback. Populism depends on revisiting the past rather than focusing on the future beyond three-five years. Polarizing people through destabilization is part of the strategy. Perpetuating hate, anger, and resentment form the core of populism and help sustain the phenomena. Double-talk also comes handy in this process.”

Academically comprehensive, the book cites the example of how the ‘melting pot’ idea of American society in the mid-20th century was studied closely by sociologists and contributed to the assimilation process that changed the course of American social progress by changing the mindset. In India, however, Rao says, despite Nehru embarking on the idea of assimilation, people continue more divided, and development has not reached a large number. Part of the reason, according to him, is the lack of critical research and independent appraisal of policies and plans.

While acknowledging the potential of the development themes echoed by Prime Minister Modi, Rao points out the glaring gaps between the stated intention and actual practice. The ideas have to be backed by “high-quality independent and unbiased research”. Slogans and themes such as ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas (united, we progress)’ deserve to be followed up far more seriously, consistently, and critically.

The government’s recent campaigns such as Swachh Bharat (clean India) or Smart Cities has brought about a new research. He calls it “Endorsement research” or supportive research. Whether research is independent is no longer the preferred criteria. Even the credibility of independent institutions, which have been the primary sources for the country’s statistics, have come under questioning. There has been more reliance on audit-based method than evaluative research in recent years, according to the book.

Divided into ten chapters and running through a little more than 300 pages, the book unequivocally tells how credible public institutions of the country are being reduced to the level of drum beaters. “Covid numbers being doled out by state after state reminds the extent political leaders stoop to suit their immediate advantages. As if we are reviving a regime of numbers.”

The book further says, citizen activism, debates, deliberations, and checks and balances are no longer virtues, and may even be snubbed. Populism does not care so much for self-correctives or plurality. He goes to the extent of saying populism needs an imaginary or a virtual villain or an enemy to prompt realignments. It submits a polarization that thrives in terms of ‘We of now’ and ‘They of the past’.

Dr Rao delves into the history, successes, and failures of research since Independence. He seeks to “regroup social sciences towards a trajectory of good governance, development and democracy, so that social research can lead towards a citizen-centric, society-sensitive future than one focused on just the market and consumer”.

With a foreword by Dr RA Mashlekar, former Director General Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the book is in-depth, fetching and has a broad sweep. It looks at the outlines of public and social research in India through a critical lens. An indispensable read.

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Bhaskar Parichha is a journalist and author of No Strings Attached: Writings on Odisha and Biju Patnaik – A Political Biography. He lives in Bhubaneswar and writes bilingually. Besides writing for newspapers, he also reviews books on various media platforms.

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