Editorial India@70

At the time of writing, Mumbai is being battered by very heavy rains. Last 48 hours, the 316 mm rainfall has made the mega polis to crawl. In an eerie coincidence, Texas, USA, is also getting pounded by a tropical storm Harvey. Two different locations and geographies struck by natural fury of high proportions, underlining, at the same time, a marked human resilience common in the face of calamities and that also brings out the very best among the people and make them rise above social constructs like religion, race, nationality, language and ethnicity for the cause of humanity!

In Mumbai, this feeling of community was on full display. Many welcoming people and homes provided succor to the stranded strangers in their midst. Volunteers stood in chest-high waters, helping out the office goers and others stuck up in traffic grids for hours together. Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians---of every denomination---came out in big numbers to assist the marooned and distributed food packets and tea. Places of worship of every faith; malls; offices and even hotels opened up their gates to serve the needy in a commendable gesture of solidarity of souls. Mumbai became a vast extended family and re-discovered the humanism that lies beneath the surface of the maximum city of glam and finance. Across the global hotspots, similar narratives play out frequently, restoring confidence in the innate goodness of people who refuse to be influenced by sectarian politics or swayed by the merchants of hate and death. It is very comforting realization!

This civilizational norm of positive growth and development---the basic oneness and unity of people in view of extreme provocation in the name of identity or religion or region; the inner nobility; the moral vision almost transcendental, defeating divisive agendas of governing elites---is a major driver of the upward trajectory of an ethical nation evolving towards higher forms of pure humanist culture and a truly egalitarian democracy as a political mode of governance---a true republic of kindred spirits and shared principles and heritage of the best ideas segmenting across centuries within the womb of ceaseless Time.

India@70 takes a critical look at some of the developmental issues of a great nation; a nation with more than a billion stories---no, not mutinies---and raring to go; a post-colonial nation exploited by a callous British Raj and its troubled legacy, now on the verge of becoming a super- power on its own terms, in the comity of nations, on the strength of its guiding principles of peaceful co-existence, plurality, tolerance, accommodation of different paths of worship and views, and, overall democratic character of a more than 5,000-year-old civilization---all these things and synergies, despite frequent bomb blasts and terror threats, constitute the very existence of India and its survival in an already fractured world swayed easily by extreme right ideologies.

Veteran editor and writer AtreyaSarma Uppaluri presents a team of important Indians that debates the journey of a country from colonialism to independence and after. The select authors scrutinize the idea of India in entirety and critique official versions of history, culture, politics and economy---the task of serious writing and journalism everywhere. Poet-translator Vatsala Radhakeesoon from Mauritius conducts a group interview of writers from that island that had attracted first waves of migration from India---and presents the view from the other side of the Indian Ocean. Noted intellectual and author Usha Kishore from Britain---the Centre that was--- focuses on the painful partition of a subcontinent through her sensitive poem that evokes the horror and trauma of an unjust division and displacement of millions by a cold and cruel decree of a retreating army of the Goras. The repercussions of that act are still being felt by the divided nations.

Another notable feature of this themed issue of Setu is a video recording of three senior citizens as the first witnesses of a nation having woken up at midnight from a long nightmare of tyranny and subjugation by a small foreign force of imperialists. Citizens who were born in a great age and were lucky enough to witness extraordinary history happening at that moment and personages of an idealistic nation struggling to throw off the yoke of deeply exploitative and degrading slavery, and, which eventually, it did successfully, inspiring other enslaved nations in their struggles for freedom and dignity. Mumbai-based Swati Gadgil, a medical professional and poet, has done the interesting conversations for the posterity.

The Contemporary Maithili Poetry is another first. The selections by reputed poet Bhaskar Jha and rendered in English open up new vistas onto the rich regional writings. So is the fresh Uzbek poetry curated by Mahfuza Imamova offering a peek into a varied culture---so distant, yet so near.

Celeb author Graham Vivian Lancaster of South Africa is the featured author of the month on the basis of his sheer diversity of talent and output in different genres.

Regular features highlight some great works by established and emerging writers from different parts of the world.

We end on a cheerful note!

Setu is delighted to felicitate its gifted editor-in-chief Anurag Sharma on getting singular honour for his stellar services in the field of promotion of Hindi and Hindi Lit by his multifarious activities. The suave Anurag was honored in Mauritius in a high-profile event there in the paradise island by Hon. Santi Bai Hanoomanjee, GCSK, the Speaker of the Parliament and and President of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Africa Region). Anurag was interviewed on TV and radio, making him into a celeb overnight. “Their love was overwhelming!” exclaims Anurag softly over long-distance call, adding lyrically, “Indeed, a paradise with angels residing in it!” He carried back fond memories of his stay there and has become a lifelong admirer of such loving and caring people. On this happy occasion, we again warmly congratulate him and take collective pride in his global achievements. The award is a great moment for us all and an apt recognition of his silent and selfless work of last two decades as an incognito writer-translator-blogger-editor. The sunshine years are round the corner for Anurag, now placed firmly in the public domain as an important public voice.

More power to him and Setu.

Jai ho!

Sunil Sharma
Setu, English
Mumbai Metro Region

1 comment :

  1. Dear Sunil, your editorial beginning with an apt reference to the recent flash-floods that have wrought havoc in Mumbai and Texas is rightly resonant with optimism instead of squealing with petty grouses. Your view of the situation stands out as an ode to man’s determination to carry on, regardless… Nature is ever-mysterious and so powerful that we have only to read her and learn to coexist with her – even as we optimally benefit from her, rather than trying to force her to be our gullible and compliant handmaid to kowtow to our avaricious ways.


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