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Goethals News Bulletin
Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, Kolkata
Vol. VIII No. 2 April - June 2005

News Update | Articles | Researchers | New Arrivals | Mails & Emails


News Update

Seminar: Preparations are on for the National Seminar, "Christian Contributions to Bengal, organized by the Goethals Library on 22nd & 23rd January, 2006. For further details please visit the Goethals website. (www.goethals.org)

Brahmabandhab Upadhyay’s Centenary: The BBU Centenary Celebrations committee met on 29 April at EMRC. Bishop Patrick D’Souza of Varanasi who has taken a keen interest in the celebrations was present at the meeting. The outcome of the meeting was:

  1. A 30 mts film on BBU and his thoughts

  2. A Bengali play and an English play

  3. A preparatory seminar in October 2006

  4. A final seminar in October 2007. The GILRS will be responsible for the seminars. The Committee will meet again on 23 July 2005.

Book Preservation: The cleaning, disinfection and fumigation of the Goethals library collection started at the end of March, 2005. A number of cupboards have been sealed, with chemicals. The sealed cupboards will be reopened after 21 days of the fumigation process. Monthly spraying of disinfectants in all cupboards will be done to ensure that the insects are kept away.

Brahmabandhab writings: All the documents and books related to Swami Brahmabandhab, which are in poor condition are given special attention and care during the preservation work.

Book Donation: The library wishes to thank the following individuals for books donated. – Utpala Ghosh, Dr. Barin Roy and Mr. Sidharth Dudhoria.

Lecture: Fr. Felix Raj, delivered a lecture on "Globalization and Education" on 23rd April at Kenilworth Hotel at a seminar organised by the Federation of Jain Educational Institutes.

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Researchers at Goethals

Debashish Pal of Jadavpur University on Film Education in India. ** Dr. Kailash Pattanaik, Visva-Bharati University, on John Beames. ** Dr. Mridula Ramanna from SIES College, Mumbai on the History of Medicine. ** Fr. George Pattery, SJ from Santiniketan on Brahmabandhab Upadhyay. ** Fr. Soosai Nayagam, SJ from Dumka on Santal Education. ** Md. Al-Hasib Jamal from Bangladesh on Astrology and Astronomy. ** Nicholas Gervase Rhodes on S. W. Laden la at St. Xavier’s, in 1934. ** Prof. Dennis Kurzon from Israel on Linguistics and the Arabic Script.

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Publications
by Fr. Felix Raj:

  1. "Social Values I – Honesty and Integrity should be basis of Economic Growth", The Statesman, 14 March 2005.

  2. "Social Values II – India’s Underdevelopment attributed to mistrust and dishonesty", the Statesman, 15 March 2005.
  3. "The Vanishing Jobs", Indian Currents, 10 April 2005, New Delhi.
  4. "Jobs and Poverty I–Industrialization has not improved scenario", The Statesman, 29 April 2005.
  5. "Jobs and Poverty II – Need for Reforms with a Human Face", The Statesman, 30 April 2005.

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Ethnic Cognition in North-East India

In has been observed that in India, since sixties the coinage "ethnic group" rather than the word tribe is used more in the academic writing. The word "tribe" is used in context of the Scheduled tribe as per the provision of the Constitution of India. The President of India declared the first list of Scheduled Tribes in 1950 commonly known as the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Orders, 1950. No criteria has been laid to declare a group of people as tribe. As a matter of fact this list is ever increasing. In 1951, second list known as the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Part C States Order, 1951 was issued. In 1956 a bigger list known as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Modification) Order 1956 issued on the basis of the recommendation of Sri Kaka Saheb Kalekar who as the Chairman of Backward Class Commission (1953) reviewed the list of castes and tribes. A perusal of the list of tribes during the decennial censuses show that whereas 212 communities were enumerated as tribes in 1951 Census, in 1961 the number of tribes shot up to 427, and in 1971 the figure was further raised to 432. Between 1971 and 1981 no change in number was noted. Another interesting anomaly is noted during the different census enumerations. In 1891 Census, tribes were enumerated under ‘Tribal religion’, in the year 1901 as ‘Animists’, in 1911 Census as ‘Tribal animist and tribal religion’, in 1921 as ‘Hill and Forest tribes’, in 1931 as ‘Primitive tribe’, and in 1931 and 1941 as ‘Tribe.’ As stated earlier, since 1951 they are known as ‘Scheduled Tribe’ As such historically in the Government records the word ‘tribe’ has been used in a vague and arbitrary manner. For the practical purposes, the tribal people get the Constitutional favour and benefits, when they are included under the Scheduled Tribe list.

The reasons for the shift from colonial word ‘tribe’ to ‘ethnic’ is also vague and arbitrary. Both the words ‘tribe’ and ‘ethnic’ have their roots in the minds of western society. Whereas people who are backward and uncivilized are called by the western people as tribal, the term ‘ethnic’ is used also in civilized and modernised context. Tribe is not used for Civilized western Societies and caste groups The shift from tribe to ethnic involves a few other changes in perspectives. The word ‘ethnic’ can be used for non-isolated, contemporary (even western) universally applicable unit in relation to other bounded units with subjectivist emphasis (Cohen 1978).

Ethnicity, Ethnic Group, Ethnic Identity: Ethnicity emerges from ethnic groups. Ethnicity creates identity consciousness. Ethnicity has been defined in anthropology and sociology in divergent ways, Cohen writes, "Most people using the term ‘ethnicity’ find definitions unnecessary. Isajiw looked at 65 studies of ethnicity in sociology and anthropology and found only 13 that defined the term. My own experience has been much the same. Writers generally take it for granted that the term refers to a set of named groupings singled out by the researcher as ethnic units. Membership in such groups (defined subjectively and/or objectively) is then shown to have an effect on, or correlation with, one or more dependent variables). In this sense ethnicity is widely used as a significant structural phenomenon, but that is hardly a definition" (ibid 385)

Anthropologists in India more or less follow the approach of Barth (1969). In fact the use of ethnic group, ethnic identity and ethnicity has come into currency in anthropological literature after the celebrated work of Barth. Ethnicity is seen as the result of interactions of biocultural groups. Ethnicity emerges in the perception of the people through basic dichotomisation of ‘we’ and ‘they’ i.e. ingroup and outgroup. Thus, emerges the identity label, prejudices, stereotypes, host of cultural, social and general effects.(B B Goswami)

Source - "Ethnonationalism, Indian Experience", Edited by A. Ghosh & R Chakravarti, Netaji Institute for Asian studies. Chatterjee Publishers, Calcutta. 1991. pp 62-63. Book No: 7A/168.

Director elected secretary of Economic Association: Fr. Felix Raj, SJ was unanimously elected on April 10, Secretary of the Bengal Economic Association (BEA) for a 3-year term. BEA is an active academic body with over 500 economists as life members and many more as ordinary members. It is an affiliated body to the International Economic Association (IEA). In BEA’s 25 year history, Fr. Felix Raj is the first Christian and first priest to be elected to this post.

In his capacity as the secretary of the BEA, Fr. Felix Raj becomes an ex-officio member of the IEA Executive Committee and will be attending the Executive Committee meeting of the IEA at Marrakech, Morocco in August 2005. He will also present a paper on "Neo-Liberalism, Globalization and Developing Countries – the Issues of Trust and Honesty" at the International Economic Seminar, in September, organized by the IEA at Marrakech.

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Oraons : Fire and Fuel

Fire is considered as sacred by the Oraons of the Sunderban area. It is not only essential in their day to day activities, but is also treated as sacred in different socio-religious functions (from birth to death it is almost indispensable in almost all the rites). Sometimes the village magicians employ fire to trace out the evil spirits, responsible for different evil deeds and also for driving away the same from the locality or from the body of the ‘haunted’ person.

The dried up twigs or branches of trees and dried leaves and the dried jute sticks plastered with cowdung are the most common types of fuel used by these people in this area. Sometimes dry grass, straw, jute wastes etc. are also used as fuel. Most of these are collected from nearby places. Coal as a fuel is too costly for them and is hardly used by them.

Sometimes fire is preserved by them for future use in a straw rope (bolan) or in an oven or in a pot full of rice-husk, thereby eliminating the cost of match sticks.

The oven prepared by these Oraons, is quite simple and similar to that used by the neighbouring caste people. It is made up of earth and plastered with a paste of mud, cowdung and water. It is triangular in shape, with three corners slightly raised in the shape of cones, known as Kana or Jhick. These three cones serve as the supporting stands on which the pot or the pan is placed. A small pit is first dug out and on three sides of the pit, three cones are made with earth. Inside the pit, the fuel burns and the ashes are stored.

The use of fire and fuel in Southern Bengal is generally similar to that of the Oraons of the Ranchi area excepting that dried Sal leaves are extensively used as fuel as these are freely available in the Ranchi area. On the other hand, the jute stick plastered with cowdung forms a popular item of fuel among the Sunderban Oraons, but is rarely used by the Ranchi Oraons.

The oven prepared by the Oraons of the Ranchi area, is also slightly different in shape and size from the Oraon ovens of the Sunderban area. The Oraon oven of the Ranchi area is bigger in size and rather rectangular in shape. First of all a big earthen platform is made and a small gap is kept in one of the lateral sides where the oven is made. Within the gap, a small depression is scooped out where the fuel burns. The raised cones of the Oraon oven of Ranchi are less prominent and almost faint as compared to those of the Sunderban. The remaining portion of the platform serves for keeping the cooking vessels.

Oraons: Foods, Drinks and Narcotics

The staple food of the Oraons of the Southern Bengal is bhati (cooked rice). It is generally taken along with dal (cooked pulses) or vegetables or both. Generally two principal meals are taken, one at midday and the other at night and in addition they often take a breakfast in the morning (Panta bela), consisting of the Panta-bhat, i.e. rice cooked over-night and kept soaked in water. At times instead of the Panta-bhat freshly cooked rice is also taken at breakfast.

Source - "The Oraons of the Sunderbans" by A K Das & M K Raha. Bulletin of the Calcutta Research Institute. Govt. of West Bengal. Calcutta. 1963. pp 52-53 (Book No. 7A/105).

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Political Status of Women

The political status of women can be defined as the degree of equality and freedom enjoyed by women in the shaping and sharing of power and in the value given by society to this role of women. The recognition of women’s political equality in the Indian Constitution was a radical departure, not only from the inherited norms of traditional Indian society, but also from the political norms of most advanced countries at that time. The two major forces which acted as catalysts in the achievements of political equality of women were the national movement and the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.

The nineteenth century reform movements had limited their efforts to improving their position of women within the traditional family structure. The turn of the century, however, saw a minority of women participating voluntarily in social welfare activities outside their homes, particularly in the cause of women’s education, welfare of the weaker sections in society and relief to distressed persons. A still smaller group participated in the revolutionary movement. The early twentieth century saw the birth of women’s organizations and the beginnings of the demand for political rights. In 1917, a deputation of Indian women led by Shrimati Sarojini Naidu presented to the British Parliament a demand for the enfranchisement of women on the basis of equality with men. The Reforms Act of 1921 extended the franchise only to wives who had property and education. The foreign rulers could not believe that Indian society would ever regard women as equal partners of men. Nor did they regard women as a separate political force.

In sharp contrast to such attitudes was that of Mahatma Gandhi .......

Source -"Status of Women in India", being a Synopsis of the Report of the National Committee on the Status of Women (1971-74). Indian Council of Social Science Research. New Delhi. 1975. pp 103. Book No. 7A/150.

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New Arrivals

  1. "Dadabhai" (Bengali) by U Ghosh Published by A Ghosh, Kolkata.
  2. "Says Dadabhai" by Dr. B Roy. Published by B Roy, Kolkata 1987.
  3. Development Policies, problems and Institutions by D. Mukherjee. New Central Book Agency, Kolkata. 2003.
  4. Dr. B R Ambedkar: A Study in Just Society by J Massey. Manohar. New Delhi. 2003.
  5. Early India – A Concise History by D N Jha. Manohar. New Delhi. 2004.
  6. European Calcutta: Images and Recollections of a Bygone Era by D. Banerjea. UBS Publishers. New Delhi. 2005.
  7. History of India by H Kulke and D Rothermund, Routledge. Noida. 2003.
  8. On the Salt March by T Weber. Harper – Collins India. New Delhi. 2000.
  9. Thinking Economics, Changes in Thinking by the Calcutta University Economics Department. Published by the University Economics Dept. Calcutta, 2003.
  10. Tribes, Forest and Social Formation in Indian History by B B Chaudhury and A Bandopadhyay. Manohar. New Delhi. 2004.
  11. Value Crisis on the way out by A. Pushparanjan. Madurai Kamraj University. Madurai. 2002.

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Mails & Emails

I had an opportunity to go through your write up ‘Social Values – I’ published in "The Statesman" on Monday, 14th March, 2005. You have made excellent and appropriate points.
Raghu Mody, The Rasoi Group, Kolkata

I read your article in "the Statesman" with great interest. I certainly agree that integrity at the individual level – be it in the personal or the corporate sphere – creates enormous benefits to the society as a whole.
George N. Sibley, Consul General, Consulate General of the United States of America, Calcutta.

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Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, St. Xavier’s, 30 Mother Teresa Sarani, Kolkata-700 016, India.
Tel: 0091-33-2280 1919; email: goethals@vsnl.com  Web-site: www.goethals.in 
Director: Fr. Felix Raj, SJ; Library Asst: Mr. Warren Brown; Computer Asst: Mr. Sunil Mondol

 

 
 

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