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Window Seat: Democracy

24/01/2021 at 7:00 AM

On 26 January 1950 we the citizens of India that is Bharat gifted ourselves a constitution replacing the Government of India Act as the governing document of India and thus, turning the nation into a newly formed sovereign republic. The Constitution gave the citizens of India the power to choose their own government and paved the way for democracy.
Several world leaders, including Churchill doubted- democracy in this multi-cultural, multi-lingual country with tens of millions of poor impoverished country would last long. But it did, though there were problems- loads of it.

However, with time the democracy as a form of government is showing its fault lines. It seems it is cracking up under pressure from all around.
If democracy is to succeed as a form of governance, it requires compliance to ethics by all parties involved- the people who are voting and the leaders and political parties who are contesting. It is a structure of fine balance.
Recently from US to Uganda- we find democracy facing tough challenges. In US, the model country of democracy a President acted like a brat- refusing to accept people’s verdict. In Uganda the electoral commission almost declares the five term President YoweriMuseveni winning sixth time, even as the Opposition challenger Bobi Wine alleges massive rigging. The poverty stricken East African country saw its worst pre-election violence since the 76 year old President Museveni took office in 1986.
On this republic day, let us pledge to hold on to our democracy with renewed vigour.

Netaji’s Cuttack connection

Subhas Chandra Bose, fondly called Netaji has been, is and will always remain a hero in India for his defiant patriotism. His fight with the British, his escape from the house-arrest in disguise through Afghanistan, raising an army to fight the British army, his call Jai Hind and DilliChalo- these have moved beyond history and transformed into modern folklore.
He was born on 23 Januaryin 1897 in Odia Bazar, Cuttack, Odishato PrabhavatiDutt Bose and Janakinath Bose, an advocate belonging to a well to do Bengali family.He was the ninth in a family of 14 children. He spent his formative years- from birth to the age of 16- in Cuttack.
Several intellectuals including eminent lawyer octogenarian Guru Prasad Mohanty were of the opinion that the intellectual mentoring and spiritual influences, which went into the shaping of a radical revolutionary in the formative phases of his life and career has not received proper attention. “In fact, it would not be wrong to say that Cuttack shaped the mind of Netaji.”
Subhaswas admitted to Stewart School (then a Protestant European School) on October 8, 1902 at the age of five and received six years of elementary education there till he was promoted to Class VII. He studied there up to December 31, 1908.
On January 11, 1909, he was admitted to Ravenshaw Collegiate School from where he completed his matriculation in 1913 and then left for Kolkata to pursue his higher studies at Presidency College in 1914.
In Cuttack, young Subhas came under the influence of two great headmasters of the school, Benimadhab Das and Narayan Prasad Mohanty. “Under the influence of Benimadhab Das, Subhas became less anglicized and more Indian. In the later part of his life, Netaji intimately acknowledged his Guru’s influence on him and viewed that he owed much to him,” said Raja Parija (59), author of ‘Netaji was born here’, a coffee table book.
It was Narayan Prasad Mohanty, who first taught Netaji the meaning of Swaraj. He was the man who first sowed the seeds of nationalism and revolutionary spirit in his adolescent mind.
Janakinath Bose had also played a stellar role in shaping the character of young Subhas. Not many know Subhas stayed in school hostel no.11, just about three km from JanakinathBhawan. “His father perhaps had in mind that keeping Subhas in the school hostel in close contact with teachers, would inspire him to inculcate the habit of simple living and high thinking as well as good conduct and character in him.” Parija said.
Subhas regularly visited Rasbihari Math at Purighat, on the bank of the river Kathajodiand NitaiGauranga Math at BangaliSahi. From there he received lessons from RamdasBabajiMaharaj.
These lessons provided a spiritual mooring in young Subhas. When he went to Calcutta from Cuttack he was drawn to the teachings of RamkrishnaParamhansa and Swami Vivekananda. At this point of his life he felt that his religion was more important than his studies.
But destiny had other plans for him.
Ambedkar’sPrabudha Bharat
Last week I wrote about PrabudhaBharata (Awakened India), which is presently the longest running monthly English journal in India. It was first published in 1896 by followers of Swami Vivekananda, who inspired them to publish a journal. Its title was also coined by Swami Vivekananda. It became the journal of Ramkrishna Mission and is published from Uttarakhand.
Baba SahebAmbedkar had also published a newspaper titled Pradudha Bharat.In the 1920s, Ambedkar began a newspaper called MookNayak (the leader of the voiceless), followed by Bahiskrit Bharat (the excluded India), Samata (equality), Janata (people) and finally Prabuddh Bharat (Enlightened India), which was launched on February 4, 1956. As he moved towards Buddhism, he decided to change the name of Janata to Prabuddh Bharat, aligning with his vision of moving “towards an enlightened India”.
But his untimely death on December 6, 1956, and the financial crunch faced by the publication made it difficult to survive. His son Yashwant tried to keep the newspaper afloat till 1960, but eventually, it shut down. Attempts were again made to revive the newspaper in the 1980s and 1990, but each time it could not be sustained beyond a few months. It was again revived in 2018.
Prakash is no more
Cuttack-based D. PRAKASH RAO, a humble tea-seller with a heart of gold left for his heavenly abode on 13 January after 20 day long battle with Covid-19 and related ailments. He was 63.
Born into a poor family PrakashRao worked as a tea seller ever since he was six-year-old. Altruism was in his blood. He donated blood for over hundred times. He shot to fame after he set up a school to help educate 70 slum-dwelling children. His school is named ‘AshaAshvaasan. Rao used to spend over half of his income to educate the children at his school.
He was conferred Padma Shree , the fourth highest civilian award of the country in 2019.
Prakash (light) truly brought light to the lives of hundreds of people. It is symbolic that he died on the eve of MakarSankranti, the festival that celebrates Sun’s northward journey (uttarayan) ending the reign of winter and welcoming the arrival of summer.
Cartoon byDebashis Singh


All of us, who use Internet to get information, know Wikipedia. In fact for many it is their first search destination.
Started in 15 January 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, it has changed the way we look for information on anything under the sunin just 20 years.
Sanger coined its nameas a portmanteau of “wiki” and “encyclopedia”. It was initially an English-language encyclopedia, but versions in other languages were quickly developed. Presently there are Wikipedia in 300 languages across the world including almost all major Indian languages like Hindi, Bengali, Tamil , Telugu, Marathi, Odia, Urdu- even Maithili. With 6.2 million articles, the English Wikipedia is the largest of the more than 300 Wikipedia encyclopedias. Overall, Wikipedia comprises more than 55 million articles.
Wikipedia is open-collaborative online encyclopedia created and maintained by a community of volunteer editors using a wiki-based editing system. It features no no advertisements. It is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, an American non-profit organization funded primarily through donations.
In 20 years it has created a movement of sorts in aggregating information for humanity for free.
In 20 years it has taken a decisive step in democratizing information and learning.
Thanks Wikipedia.

Tailpiece: JeevanAnand

She was an LIC employee. She went to a portrait painter to get her painting done. She asked him to add an eleven lakh rupees necklace to her neck on the portrait, although she was not wearing any.
The painter asked why she wanted it in her picture.
She replied : If I die, no doubt my husband will marry again. The new wife will see this picture and will search endlessly for this non-existing necklace. They both will fight and that’s when my soul will find real peace.
This is called – jeevananand policy. “zindagikesaathbhi, zindagikebaadbhi”!!

Journalist turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee lives in Dhenkanal, Odisha. Odia translation of an anthology of essays titled Mahatma Gandhi: Journalist and Editor, originally published in English is releasing by mid-January 2021.


This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with the www.prameyanews.com

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