Swapan Chakrabarty, a collector and seller of rare books and a person associated for long with various democratic movements, passed away on 1 July in Kolkata at the age of 66. He had been suffering from the fatal cancer disease. During the notorious Indira-Siddhartha period of 1971-1977 in Bengal, he spent four years in prison and was freed in 1977 following the movement for the release of political prisoners. He was associated with various Naxalite outfits from time to time, but the main thing about him was that he remained a member of the Association for the Protection Democratic Rights (APDR) until he was overtaken by cancer. He was one of the few persons in Kolkata who collected old and rare books and knew their worth. One specific outcome of this knowledge was the discovery of a small but important book 'Wine in Ancient India', written by D K Bose and first published in 1922. Thanks to Chakrabarty's discovery, this book was translated into Bengali and published in 2005 by the well-known publishing concern CAMP. In 2006, a reprint of the original English book also appeared. The Bengali translation was reprinted in 2010.
It is nearly impossible for such a person to attain worldly success and Swapan Chakrabarty was anything but a successful man in the ordinary sense. But those who knew him always treated him with honour and respect. Like the demise of Indranath Mazumdar, proprietor of the famous institution Subarna-rekha, his death too has left a void in the world of collectors of old and rare books, and civil rights activists have lost a co-fighter.
Anirban Biswas, Birbhum
Bandana Ray of Kalyani (in her letter in FRONTIER of May 12-18, 2013) certainly has all the liberty to express her views about politics, and my 'hangover of Naxalite involvements.' But she should be cautious when dealing with facts. To put the record straight, my 'Naxalite involvements in my youth' did not 'cost me my job in a major English daily around 1969,' as she writes. In 1969 I was still working for this daily (The Statesman) in Delhi, despite my involvement. It was only in 1973 that I resigned from The Statesman, joined the movement and went underground.
Sumanta Banerjee, Dehradun
July 12–Malala Day
Malala Yousafzai, thePakistani teenager shot by the Taliban for promoting education for girls, celebrated her 16th birthday on Friday (July 12) by demanding, in her first public speech since the attack, that world leaders provide free compulsory schooling for every child.
In an impassioned address from the podium at the United Nations to more than 1,000 youth leaders from over 100 countries, Malala called for "a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism."
"Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons," she said. "One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first."
Malala, who wore a traditional pink shalwar kameez and a shawl that she said belonged to slain Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, began her speech with a traditional Muslim prayer.
She called herself just one of thousands of victims of the Taliban and said the bullet that entered the left side of her forehead last October had not dimmed her ambitions to promote peace, education and prosperity. Her head was covered in a scarf and her face displayed little sign of injury.
Malala invoked Mahatma Gandhi and other global advocates of non-violence stressing that "I'm not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban, or any other terrorist group.
"I'm here to speak about the right of education for every child," she said. "I want education for the sons and daughters of all the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me."
But her main focus was on the 57 million children who aren't in school today. The UN designated July 12 as "Malala Day," and there were cheers, and a round of "Happy Birthday" for her.
But she said, "Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.
However, the day went unnoticed in her home district Swat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which is in power in the province, has not organized any special ceremony regarding Malala day in her home district.
A Reader, New York
Vol. 46, No. 3, Jul 28-Aug 3, 2013
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