Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category

Great Kolkata Scholar interviewed

If you exclude Nobel laureates, India’s most major intellectual export to the West is arguably Partha Chatterjee. Many would say there is no need to exclude the Nobel laureates when maintaining this proposition. Kolkata rejoices in the fact that Partha Chatterjee prefers to remain very much a part-time export: he only spends about 3-4 months being professor at Columbia; the rest of the time he is mainly to be found in dhoti-kurta within his natural habitat. His devotion to Kolkata and his self-location within the city are evident from his speech at the Fukuoka Prize of 2009 ceremony in Japan, during which he speaks partly in Bengali to praise Kolkata as the city which made his kind of scholar possible. It’s worth experiencing the integrity and dignity of his address at this link.

Two incidental details in connection with the Fukuoka Prize: among scholars, this has only been won earlier by two Indians, Romila Thapar and Ashis Nandy (both ordinarily resident in New Delhi). It is awarded to scholars whose influence has been widely recognized as profound and monumental. Second, Partha Chatterjee had asked that the prize be bestowed on him at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata, and the awarding body had agreed. Unfortunately, Chatterjee fell very seriously ill and had to be briefly hospitalized over the Kolkata dates, and the ceremony on the youtube video was held in Fukuoka, Japan.

Partha Chatterjee was instrumental in shifting Subaltern Studies from OUP to Permanent Black in 2000. He has, since, quietly and steadfastly supported Permanent Black, both via giving us his own books to publish, and by advising scholars and students to look seriously at Permanent Black. Most recently, Chatterjee was responsible for bringing to fruition the publication of Ranajit Guha’s collected English essays, The Small Voice of History (Permanent Black paperback).

This short interview with Partha Chatterjee reveals some facets of one of contemporary Bengal’s most reputed scholar-intellectuals, whose two new books, THE LINEAGES OF POLITICAL SOCIETY (see blog lower down) and THE BLACK HOLE OF EMPIRE, will be published by Permanent Black, Columbia University Press, and Princeton University Press. (more…)

विश्वास जगाऊ

गएको महिना चारदिने नेपाल भ्रमणमा आएकी सन् २००९ मा अर्थशास्त्रमा नोवल पुरस्कार विजेता एलिनोर अस्ट्रमसँग नेपालको ऐतिहासिक रूपले सफल सामुदायिक स्रोत व्यवस्थापन प्रणालीबारे कनकमणि दीक्षितले गरेको कुराकानी।

जल, जङ्गललगायतका साझा स्रोतको व्यवस्थापन आदिकालदेखि हुदै आएको भए पनि नेपालमा सफलताहरूको यथोचित कदर हुनसकेको छैन। स्थानीय स्वशासन मृतप्रायः छ। सामुदायिक वनसमेत आलोचित बन्दैछ। लाग्छ, हाम्रा नीति-निर्माता र विचार निर्माताहरूमध्ये केही विगतका आफ्नै सफलतालाई देख्यानदेख्यै गरिरहेका छन्।
त्यस्तो लाग्नु अस्वाभाविक हैन। त्यसैले त विश्वभरका विद्वानहरूलाई दैनन्दिन खेती गर्ने किसान, माछा मार्ने माझ्ी र वन व्यवस्थापन गर्ने उपभोक्ताहरूले स्रोतको अति दोहन गर्छन् भन्ने कल्पना गर्न गाह्रो भएन र सन् १९६८ मा ग्यारेट हार्डिनले आफ्नो लेखमा गरेको जनसाधारणको विपत्ति (दि ट्र्याजेडी अफ कमन्स्) को चर्चाले त्यत्रो महत्व पायो। तर, नेपालमा समुदायहरूले गजबको काम गरेको इतिहास छ। मानिसहरू प्रायः बजार वा राज्यले दिने समाधानका कुरा गर्छन्, जुन स्रोतहरूको निजीकरण वा तिनमा राज्यको पूरै नियन्त्रण हो। तर, नेपालमा स्रोत व्यवस्थापनको स्थानीय परिपाटीलाई बिर्सनु हुँदैन। यसरी हेर्दा विज्ञानसँगै रैथाने ज्ञानको उपयोग गर्नैपर्छ। (more…)

Difficult Road to Democracy : Interview with B.P. Koirala

– India Today, March 16-31, 1979

Nepal’s feeble cry for democratization was virtually silenced recently in the wake of execution of two Nepali Congress activists, Captain Yagya Bahadur Thapa and Bhim Narain Shrestha. It is significant that the executions were carried out at a time when King Birendra was ostensibly moving towards a rapprochement with the ailing leader of the banned Nepali Congress party, B. P. Koiala. Equally significant was the fact that Thapa and shrestha had been sentenced to capital punishment four years ago, but were executed just when a clemency petition was pending in the courts.

The executions have added to the undercurrent of discontent that is spreading throughout Nepal. Incidents of violence have risen, specially in the rural areas; thousands of students and peasants are arrested every year-according to a recent estimate y amnesty International about 3,000 political activists are languishing in Nepali jails. The executions have proved to be a major setback to the process of “national reconciliation” which Koirala has been pursuing in the face of strong opposition from some of his own party members.

Koirala, 65, former Prime Minister of Nepal and a co-accused with Thapa was recently in Delhi on his way to Kathmandu from the US, where he had gone for medical treatment. In an exclusive interview with INDIA TODAY, he discussed the recent executions and its effects on his efforts to usher in democracy in Nepal.

Q: What effect will the execution of two of your party-men, Capt. Yagya Bahadur Thapa and Bheem Narain Shreshta, have on your efforts at ‘national reconciliation’?

BP: The executions came as a great surprise to me. They were more shocking because recently the atmosphere in the kingdom had started to ease and the general feeling was that the process of democratization would begin soon. The sudden executions have befouled the atmosphere for national reconciliation. They have created psychological difficulties for me because the killings would always be at the back of my mind when I talk to the King next. But I must say the reconciliation process will not be abandoned. (more…)

‘नेहरू साह्रै कच्चा नेता थिए’ : बीपी कोइराला (BP Koirala)

BP koirala with Neharu

BP koirala with Neharu

(2007/10/29,Monday नयाँ पत्रिकाबाट)

(कांग्रेसका दिवंगत नेता बिपी कोइरालाले नेहरू मेमोरियल म्युजियम तथा लाइब्रेरीका डा. हरिदेव शर्मालाई २०३३ सालमा दिनुभएको ऐतिहासिक अन्तर्वार्ता क्रमशः प्रस्तुत गर्ने क्रममा आज हामीले अर्को भाग प्रस्तुत गरेका छौं। अन्तर्वार्ताको प्रतिलिपि नेपाली कांग्रेसका पुराना एवं समर्पित कार्यकर्ता पदमबहादुर थापाको अथक प्रयास र सहयोगले हामीलाई प्राप्त भएको हो। यस सामग्रीको मूल टेप र प्रामाणिक प्रतिलिपि नेहरू म्युजियममा सुरक्षित छ। थापालाई यी सामग्रीको प्रतिलिपि तयार गर्न विशेष सहयोग गर्नुहुने बिपीपुत्र शशांक र नेहरू म्युजियमका निर्देशक डा. विमल प्रसादप्रति नयाँ पत्रिकाफेरि पनि विशेष आभार प्रकट गर्दछ। कांग्रेसका चिन्तक नेता प्रदीप गिरीको चिठी र सहयोगकै कारण थापालाई यो सामग्री हासिल गर्न थप सजिलो भएकाले हामी गिरीप्रति पनि विशेष कृतज्ञ छौं। डा. शर्माले बिपीसँग दर्जनौं प्रश्न गर्नुभएको थियो। यसपटक हामीले प्रधानमन्त्री हुँदा बिपीले भारत र चीनसँगको सम्बन्ध सन्तुलित बनाउन कस्तो प्रयास गर्नुभयो भन्ने सर्न्दर्भ प्रस्तुत गरेका छौं। यी दुर्लभ दस्तावेज हामी क्रमशः प्रकाशन गर्दै जानेछौं। सं.)

तपाईंको विदेश नीति कस्तो थियो, खासगरी भारत र चीनप्रतिको धारणा ?
भारत र चीनको सम्बन्ध असहज भएको बेला म सत्तामा आएँ। स्थिति सन् १९५३ देखि नै विग्रँदै गएको थियो। तर
, १९५९ मा नपुग्दै यो विस्फोटक बिन्दुमा पुग्यो। तपाईंलाई आश्चर्य लाग्ला, जवाहरलाल नेहरू असाध्यै कच्चा नेता थिए। म उनीसँग भारत र चीनको सम्बन्धबारे छलफल गर्थें, म प्रधानमन्त्री हुनुअघि पनि। चीनले तिब्बत कब्जा गर्नु भारतको सुरक्षाका लागि खतरा हो, मेरो भनाइ थियो। तर, लाख कोसिस गर्दा पनि नेहरूले यो कुरा बुझेनन्, बुझनै चाहेनन्। भारतप्रति आक्रामक बन्न चीन किन इच्छुक होला र ? उनको तर्क थियो। उनी भन्थे, ‘चीन आन्तरिक झमेलामा यति धेरै फसेको छ, उसले विदेशतिर आँखा लगाउने कोसिस पनि गर्नेछैन। (more…)

Rethinking Development : Helena Norberg-Hodge

Interviewed by David Barsamian, Boulder, Colorado, November 30, 1992

Helena Norberg-Hodge has examined and critiqued conventional notions of development. A linguist by training, and a native of Sweden, she was educated in Europe and the United States. She first went to Ladakh in northwestern India in 1975. Three years later she founded the Ladakh Project, with the goal of providing Ladakhis with the means to make more informed choices about their own future. Her work has received wide support and recognition. She is Director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture in Berkeley, California. She is the author of Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh.
(more…)

Remember me as a Good Man : BP Koirala

 (Source: August 8, 1982 Amrit Bazar Patrika, Calcutta (Kolkata))

BP Koirala

Devastatingly handsome. Tall and lean, he has an easy grace in his movements, and even more graceful is his courtesy, for he proffers his hand and says, “I’m Koirala!’ Yes, of course, I mumble and follow him into a large room where few cane chairs are strewn about, and there is a big bedstead with a sheet on it for many people to sit on.
?�ea comes in small cheap glasses, and I remember that every other politician in town had served tea in expensive crockery. Koirala was a sickman, with a permament hoarseness in the voice, and it was clear, long conversation tired him, the vocal chords in particular. But for the four hours or so that I talked to him, on two days on the second, he wore Nepalese dress he never sought rest, thought our conversation was interrupted quite a few times by people visiting him. Not all, it seemed to me, were political workers, but he had time for everybody, and even when impatient, was never angry or imperious like some people we have seen nearer home.
When Tirthankar Mukherjee met Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala (BP to his friends) they close to talk of things not immediately political. What were this elder statesman’s life’s lessons? Why are dreams never fulfilled? What still impels a man never to give up? How can one not be frustrated when every single belief of one’s crumbles? Extracts from their long conversation follow.

(more…)

इतिहास लेखनमा सवअर्ल्ट्रन स्टडिज : रञ्जित गुहा

Ranjit Guha

(The Subaltern Studies group was founded in India in 1982 by Ranjit Guha, an Indian historian and Economist)

म आन्दोलनरत वामपन्थी खेमामा थिएँ र सक्रिय कार्यकर्ता पनि थिएँ। जुन खेमामा भएपनि साम्राज्यवादविरोधी भएको नाताले हामी सबै राष्ट्रवादी थियौं। “स्वराज” को लडाइँको त्यस चरणमा बढ्दो असन्तोषको तीब्रताको बेला हामी सुन्दर भविष्यको कल्पनामा उत्साहित थियौं। हाम्रा लागि स्वाधीनता कसैले परिभाषित गरे जस्तो थिएन; यो त कम वा वेसी सुनौलो भविष्यको साझा अभिप्राय थियो, तर हामीले चाहे जस्तो भविष्यको आगमन भएन। त्यसले नै फेरि निराशा ल्यायो तर त्यो निराशा नयाँ पुस्ताको भन्दा भिन्‍न थियो। मैले ‘एन एन्थोलोजी अफ सवअर्ल्ट्रन स्टडिज: अ रिडर’ को परिचयमा कसरी पुराना पुस्ताको निराशा नयाँ पुस्ताको भन्दा भिन्‍न छ? भनेर केही हदसम्म बताउने प्रयास गरेको छु। नयाँ पुस्ताका प्रतिनिधि सहिद अमिन, ज्ञान पाण्डे र अन्य जसले मसँग काम गरे आदिलाई के आशा गर्ने? भन्‍ने पनि थाहा थिएन तर उनीहरूले पनि धेरै आशा गरेका थिए, त्यसैले नयाँ पुस्ता निराश थियो। निराशाको सर्वव्यापी परिस्थितिको त्यही संरचनाले नै मेरो बीचारलाई आकार दियो। (more…)