Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Our Life, Our Times :: 22 :: The Season of Noises

TThe season of noise is here with Ganesh Chaturthi, supposedly the birthday of the roly poly elephant-headed God. You see temporary establishments often tastefully decorated and with colourful lights at night. Music, of course, is essential part of festivities. The loudspeakers belt out devotional music and sometimes even film music.

We Indians are noisy people. As it is, we are a loud people and when it comes to celebrations we seem to feel that the louder the celebrations are the better they would be – and perhaps more enjoyable. While noise is an integral part of any Indian celebration, the noisy protagonists are not satisfied with normal, decent, enjoyable or bearable noise. They have to have high decibel levels as the whole thing is aimed at others; i.e. they would like to let others know that they were having a celebratory get-together and a great time.

Take Diwali for instance. It is not only a festival of lights, it is also a festival of merry-making and family get-togethers. Fireworks are made use of depending on the depth of one’s pocket. While sparklers are passé, what have caught the imagination of the current generation are the so-called bombs. They make ear-splitting sound and are surely lethal enough to shock the elderly and the sick. But who is bothered? If I have money I would buy them at whatever might be their cost and burst them not in the evening but at dead of the night to shake up the whole neighbourhood. That, in fact, is the idea: let the neighbourhood know who has the most gravy.  Louder it is, the better it would be! The Supreme Court could go to hell along with its orders on permissible decibel levels. Such people neither know about decibels nor do they care about its effects on others.

Around noon today I was sitting on my desk when I heard a distant din. To me it sounded like a whole gathering of people was shouting and screaming. As if that was not enough somebody started playing music on a PA system. It added to the noise level. To add to that melee of noises at least two mosques commenced their aazhaan. Yes, legitimate but noisy nonetheless. And then came the clincher      - two hooters, one after another. I do not know whether they were of ambulances or police or of some neta. Whoever that might have been it was a cacophony of sound that was inflicted on others. I wouldn’t know how those who were out on the street up close to them felt. I, sitting at an appreciable distance from the clutter of the street, felt virtually mad. I realized that noise could really make you insane or even make you kill yourself.

In our complex of 13 flats Lord Ganesh is being worshipped these days. The festivities on the occasion of his birth anniversary last around ten days. This also is not true of all communities; some have only a very reasonable daylong festival. But our people in the complex believe in stretching it to ten days – the longer it is, the more the God will be pleased. If the God is amply pleased He will shower more wealth and that is precisely what it is all about; more money. They are a trading community and worship the God with a vengeance – mantras are recited on a PA system, an electronic  equipment blares out devotional music and there is occasionally a band that beats the drums so hard and so loudly that the high decibel noise could rupture one’s eardrums.
Noise is ever-present in our lives; that more people have not lost their heads because of it is a matter of surprise. One can, however, be sure that the rising noise level in the public spaces is going to have a deleterious effect on the health of a substantial section of the population. Last evening as we drove down from my late brother’s place we saw a very colourfully lit Ganesh “pandal” at every hundred metres and, of course loud, raucous music. We came down the arterial road and the music hardly ever ceased to keep us company. There was no respite at home either. Families from the flats collected down below for collective worship and partake of the “Prasad” which, in fact, is a full-fledged dinner. Ganesh is also fed the same dinner but, as He has the pride of place, he ‘dines’ before everybody else.

It was not like this around seventy or seventy five years ago. Living as we did in Gwalior, the domain of Scindias, a Maratha prince Ganesh Chaturthi was basically a Maharashtrian festival. The locals never celebrated it. It was a very private affair. Families would buy Ganesh idols and worship Him after installation at home. At the end of the day or the next day the idol would be immersed in a water body, if available. There was no pomp or show of wealth, hardly any loudspeakers.

 Even the Durga Puja of Bengalis used to be held in a temple with contributions from the small Bengali community. In Gwalior for many years Durga Puja used to be held only at one place – the Sanatan Dharm Mandir and Bengalis from Morar, JC Mills or from old Gwalior would hire tongas and come driven by their devotion to the Goddess, for meeting members of the community and what was perhaps an unexpressed reason, that of identifying themselves with their culture.

There were no “pandals” for either Lord Ganesh or Goddess Durga on streets every few hundred feet like these days. It seems people now have more money to burn and perhaps they have greater need to propitiate the gods on account of misdeeds committed in their life.  It certainly is not heightened religiosity; to my mind, it is basically self interest.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Attack on Swami Agnivesh

The other day Swami Agnivesh wrote in the Indian Express about the attack on him by the workers of Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and the reasons for the same. It seems he was going to the BJP Party office to pay homage to the late former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he was accosted by the roughnecks of the Party and assaulted by them who tore his clothes and brought him down on the road. Although Swami Agnivesh escaped with minor injuries the matter was reported to the Police and a few of the miscreants were arrested.

These party workers apparently called him a fake swami and alleged that he was defaming the Hindu religion. They had numerous issues against him that prompted them to assault him. It is ironical that Swami Agnivesh was assaulted when he was on his way to pay homage to late Vajpayee-ji even as the entire political class, including that of the BJP, of the country was acclaiming him as one of the finest liberal prime ministers and was being hailed as only the second “statesman” that India produced after Jawaharlal Nehru.

Swami Agnivesh is an Arya Samaj follower. As is well known Arya Samaj is a Hindu reformist movement started by Swami Dayanand Saraswati in the 19th Century. The movement promotes Vedic Hinduism and is against Hindu superstitions and worship of images. It even shuns pilgrimages and condemns, for example, worship of the ice lingam at the Amarnath cave in Kashmir. Swami Agnivesh had once done just that – i.e. he condemned the Hindu pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave to worship the ice lingam as a representation of Lord Shiva as he said it was just a stalagmite and had nothing divine about it. Hindus were enraged by such disparaging criticism of Hindu beliefs. Amarnath is reckoned as the holiest shrine of Hinduism and finds mention in the holy Hindu ancient texts. Their belief is that it is here Lord Shiva had, inter alia, explained the secrets of life and eternity to his “divine consort Parvati”. The rabid Hindu groups were enraged by the iconoclastic talks of Swami Agnivesh.

It seems the ruling establishment and its various subaltern outfits cannot stand any criticism of their religious orientation. They cannot even stand thoughts that are rational – based on science and reason. There have been numerous instances where rationalistic proponents of analytical and logical thoughts have simply been eliminated. There are organizations subscribing to conservative Hindu thoughts which train people to kill rationalists. That they have lately been nabbed and are facing music at the hands of the police investigators is another matter. Nevertheless, recently a picture appeared in the Facebook of a minister in a state government who very brazenly said rationalists should be shot dead. Such is the unmixed hatred among rabid Hindus and their shadowy and sinister organizations for rationalists. In point of fact they are no better than the Talibans of Pakistan.

The silence on such incidents of the ruling establishment, especially of its higher echelons, gives stimulation to the perception that such acts are condoned by it. Some even think that these acts are fostered by it. That is precisely why the ruling party and their various outfits are accused of intolerance of contrarian opinions, especially in so far as Hindu religion is concerned. In pursuance of this thriving intolerance at least four persons acclaimed as brilliant rationalists have been eliminated. The only consolation is that the murders are being investigated and the criminals are being identified and arrested wherever possible. While in respect of their cases the law will take its own course, it is a pity that there has been no reprimand issued by the higher functionaries of the ruling party to the organizations members of which harbour such violent hatred for people – the rationalistic Hindus – holding opinions based on reason and logic.

Such violent incidents have given rise to fear in the society. People have become careful, guarded and refrain from giving honest expression to their thoughts, Physical assaults or even elimination from a bullet from the barrel of a gun tends to make one feel diffident in expressing one’s opinion. Even as I write this, I too have that lurking fear that whatever I write could be misconstrued and I might even be assaulted or killed. It is, therefore no wonder that after the ‘age of intolerance’ we have quickly progressed into a “Republic of fear”, as Pratap Bhanu Mehta, an intellectual and currently Vice Chancellor of Ashoka University, has put it. I am not inclined to go into the details of Mehta’s thesis as it has been provoked by Modi’s failure to speak in his Independence Day speech about the violent orientation of the Hindu extreme Right-wingers. But, there indeed is a genuine fear among the thinking public, the free-thinkers, about speaking out and ventilating their views that might not match up with those of the extreme Hindu Right.

The arrest in a country-wide swoop of as many as five intellectuals who also are human rights activists has caused further consternation among the people.  Even the Supreme Court found the action of the Police extraordinary and ordered only house arrests for them. Each one of them is an intellectual and most intellectuals generally appear as left-leaning though not every intellectual is a left activist. Some may sympathise with the marginalized Left and even render intellectual assistance to them but they seldom work against the State. Perhaps, for some act of this nature the five individuals were nabbed in country-wide raids and put in remand for alleged offences for which the courts failed to find evidence. Even the Supreme Court extended their house arrest and warned the government against “muzzling dissent”. The five activists have now acquired the sobriquet of “Urban Naxals”.

Swami Agnivesh was assaulted when he was on his way to pay homage to Late Vajpyee-ji, the tallest BJP leader, who stood for observance of “Raj Dharm”. Raj Dharm surely includes tolerance of opposing views. If Swami Agnivesh has beliefs that are contrarian to general Hindu beliefs and attitudes it certainly does not mean that his voice should be muzzled by inflicting bodily harm to him. He has the freedom to have his own views and practice them just as the perpetrators of the crime have freedom to have their own.

 Nothing, therefore, could be more condemnable when a devotee of Vajpayee-ji is roughed up while on his way to pay his last respects to the latter. There was nothing moral or ethical or spiritual about the treatment meted out to the Swami. The BJP party workers did not in any way serve the interests of their own party and their government. In point of fact, they only gave expression to their fascist tendencies bringing their party and government in disrepute.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Destinations :: Arunachal Pradesh :: Itanagar & Ziro (1989)

Subansiri River

I understand now there is a god road between Shillong and Guwahati. It was not so in late 1980s. From Shillong one had to pass through Guwahati to go to almost every places in Arunachal Pradesh. I had to do it every time and used to wonder if these roads were so bad in 1962 when the Chinese came through the McMahon Line. If they were indeed as bad as they were in late 1980s (in fact, the chances were that they were even worse) the Indian Army would have had a tough time in deployment of troops and supplies to the borders which were up on the mountains. Thankfully, roads have since been built not only from Shillong to Guwahati, even the biggish stretch of Guwahati to Bomdila has a four-lane highway.

A place of worship in Itanagar
This time I was on my way to Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh. I had to park myself at Naharlagun, an Arunachal town down on the plains on the Assam border. It occasionally is up against the wild elephants that without any reason decide to raid the place. The nearby jungles even in the late 1980s were harbouring them. I do not know what the situation now is.

Naharlagun is like an ordinary plains town. Nonetheless, it used to be site
Ziro from its Circuit House
for the higher court of Arunachal until the Gewahati High Court established its bench at Itanagar in the year 2000. This was the only place then where the visiting officials could get decent accommodation to stay. Now it has become a rail-head also, facilitating journey from Guwahati.

Even the tourist web sites say that there is nothing much to see in Itanagar. The place probably got its name from the Ita Fort. Ita is brick in Assamese and perhaps since the fort is made of bricks it is known as Ita Fort Apart from the Fort there is a Buddhist temple which is nothing

An Apatani village
much to write home about. All in all, it is a nondescript town and left to oneself one would avoid visiting it.

Ziro, the headquarters of the Lower Subansiri district, has a lot of character. Its undulations, its early morning fogs and, above all, its concentration of Apatani tribal people make it an interesting place. In fact, mainly because of Apatanis the UNESCO
A mithun
World Heritage Sites Committee wanted to make Ziro a World Heritage Site.

Curiously, the Apatanis, unlike other tribal people, are not nomadic. They are a settled people rooted to their soil, cultivating their fields and are happy about it. Rice is the dominant crop. Everyone seems to be growing it making the community self-sufficient. They make a sort of rice wine which they have for celebrations or just to make merry. Christianity has made some inroads yet traditional culture has been retained.

Number of mithuns determines a person’s financial status. A mithun is
An Apatani male
neither a cow nor a buffalo. It has descended from Indian bison. It is allowed to graze freely in the forest areas of the Apatanis. These are raised for traditional rituals and eventually to be slaughtered. Its meat is said to be tender. Mithuns are intimately linked with the cultural life of Apatanis, yet they do not worship it as Hindus worship or care for the cow.

Yet another peculiarity about Apatanis is their women who wear an unique nose plug which somehow mutilates their facial features. But that is the tradition and it is being observed, though gradually the practice is being given up.

 A word is necessary about Subansiri river that flows down the eponymously named district. While it is the biggest tributary of the mighty River Brahmaputra, it flows through Tibet, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. While coming down to meet the Brahmaputra it traverses some gorgeous country, the landscapes being just fantastic.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

From my scrapbook :: 9 :: Payback time for corporates

The Modi government is frequently accused of its close relations with the Indian corporates. it is alleged to be not only is soft towards them, it also works in favour of them by exempting them from paying taxes amounting to thousands of crores. Rahul Gandhi is one prominent politician who frequently says that Modi cannot see poverty and the poor in India; all his attention is always towards his rich friends in the corporate world.

In point of fact, the allegations do not seem to be correct as it was recently reported that the Indian corporates are selling off their massive assets in order to pay back the loans that had remained unpaid till now. It may be recalled that the Indian banking system has accumulated hundreds and thousands of crores of loans that have become its non-performing assets, primarily because the corporate sector has not paid back the huge amounts it had taken from various banks. These loans were taken during the Congress rule which Modi had occasion to refer to as “phone banking” by politicians and senior bureaucrats.

As The Hindu put it, “for sale” tags are now visible on big ticket industries like, among others, airports, roads, ports, steel and thermal plants, refineries, cement units. etc. The Hindu reviewed the corporate houses that had taken billions in loans and came across results that were startling,

A snapshot of the review is given below:

1.  Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group is sitting on a pile of loan of Rs. 1,20,000 crore. The assets put out on sale are transmission towers, optical fibre related infrastructure from Reliance Communications, its flagship firm. It has also decided to sell from Reliance Infra 49% in Electricity generation, transmission and distribution in Mumbai and its Cement business to Birla. It is also looking to sell its entire portfolio of road projects valued at around Rs. 9000 crore.

2. The two Ruia brothers of Essar Group have accumulated a debt of more than Rs.1lakh crore. Ruias have been notorious for their reluctance to pay back their loans. Now they are out to sell Essar’s huge stake in its steel business and 49% of its stakes in oil to a Russian oil company. Essar Oil and Essar Steel account for one-third of the Group’s debt.

3. The JP Group’s debt is over Rs. 75000 crore. The company is looking to sell its cement plants and is contemplating to put out on sale its interests in the Yamuna Express Highway, thermal power plants besides its land parcels. The company seems to have gone broke.

4. GMR was reported to be the first among the debtors to sell off assets to pay back its hefty outstanding loans. It has already offloaded its stakes worth Rs.11000 crores in road projects, South African coal mine, Istanbul Airport, a Singapore Power Project and 2 Coal Mines in Indonesia.

5. The Lanco Group has sold its power plant in Udipi. The debts of the company have been rising from its current outstanding of Rs. 47000 crore. It is planning to sell more thermal power plants and its interests in an Australian coal mine to reduce its debt burden.

6. The Videocon Group is aiming to reduce its debt to Rs. 29000crore from the current figure of more than Rs. 45000 crore. It has already sold its spectrum rights to Bharti Airtel for Rs.4600 crores and is selling its stake in Mozambique gas fields for Rs. 15000 crore.

7. Jindal Steels is selling 49% of its business of supplying rails to the railways of various countries. Only 50% of the capacity of his Raigarh plant is being currently utilized.  Naveen Jindal is also selling 1000 MW power plant to his brother. He is also contemplating to sell his other assets to reduce his debts of Rs. 46000 crore.

8. The Sahara Group is in real trouble. Its chief had even to go to jail for not meeting the obligations its firms had bargained for. Its sell-list now contains as many as 86 real estate assets, a 42% stake in Formula One team Force India, Grosvenor House, London, the New York Plaza Hotel, the Dream New York Hotel and Sahara Hotel in Mumbai. It is also selling it four airplanes.

9. By now everyone knows that nearly all of Vijay Mallya's Assets are up for Sale. The loans obtained by exercising political influence are now being recovered by the method of attachment of his several high value properties and assets.

These are only some of the major instances of recoveries for loans amounting to lakhs of crores. There are many other smaller fries that operate below the radar and are able to escape scrutiny. But the point here is that it is not that the whip is not being cracked; it is being cracked and, in a few cases, even lashed. This is, perhaps, for the first time since independence that the high and mighty of the Indian industry are being made to cough up their dues to the public. 

*Photo from internet

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Baha'is of India

I first saw a Baha’i when I was a schoolboy. A Baha’i family came and settled down in Gwalior. I never seem to have seen the head of the family but the wife was very active and very sociable. Their name was Bowman and they had two daughters – Perin and another whose name I just cannot remember. Mrs. Bowman used to come to our house as she became a student of my father in the local Victoria College.

The mother was enterprising; she introduced table breads to the citizens of Gwalior which she used to make at home and get them home-delivered. Her daughter Perin joined the local Medical College and, in the process, collected a lot of suitors, attractive as she was. After all, she was an Iranian. I suppose in course of time other Baha’is joined them and they, I believe, built a small Baha’i temple somewhere near their house.It was much later that I saw in photographs the new Baha’i temple  of Delhi called the Lotus Temple. Later, I too got an opportunity to photograph this beautiful structure and partake of its quiet and peaceful ambiance..

Baha’is, to my mind are a somewhat obscure community in India. Theyare not many in numbers but they appear to be very prosperous as they have built temples in major cities of the world. Drawing their religiosity from one Baha ullah, who in 1863 declared himself to be a prophet predicted to arrive by the Babi religion. Baha’is basically believe in the unity of God, unity of all religions and unity of humanity. The Baha’is also stand for world peace and a new world order.

As the teachings were diametrically opposed to those of Islam they were persecuted in Iran, the land where it took its roots. They therefore
migrated out of Iran and landed in various lands from East to West. In this process they also touched the shores of India and settled in its various parts in small numbers. Around 2 million in number, they are making their own contribution to the multicoloured social fabric of India. The biggest contribution of Baha’is in India is the Lotus Temple at Delhi, a wonderful piece of architecture that people come to see from far off places.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Destinations :: North-East :: Arunachal Pradesh :: Bomdila (1988)


A mist covered street of Bomdila

Arunachal Pradesh was one of the six states that were in my jurisdiction in the North-East Circle. On the map it looked formidable sprawling from Bhutan in the West to Myanmar in the East with the hostile Chinese breathing down fire and brimstone from the North. It is known as the Land of the Rising Sun as the first rays of the Sun received in the country are in the peaks of this State.

 It had at that time only 11 districts which have since been increased to sixteen by carving out new districts from old, presumably, unmanageably large districts. The state is perhaps the most diverse in all its attributes – of people as it is a melting pot of

Bomdila Circuit House
numerous tribes, or climate, as it varies from tropical in the lower latitudes to Alpine in higher latitudes or flora and fauna that change from tropical to temperate making it one of the most bio-diverse of states. Among the flora orchids are dominant with 150 species and that is how it is known as the Orchid State of India. With its massive spread and difficult accesses none could possibly cover the entire state in a tenure of two years. I, therefore settled for limited forays into the state starting off with Bomdila, a generally known place from the time of the Chinese hostile incursions of 1962.

Getting set for a visit to Bomdila we equipped ourselves with enough of woollens. It was October and was going to be cold, especially if it happened to rain. We had to go to Gwahati and on to Tezpur. At
Tezpur we stayed in that fabulous circuit house that overlooked the massive River Brahmaputra. It was after the monsoons and the river was up to its brim. From the Circuit House it appeared like a huge sheet of water – almost like a sea, as the opposite bank was not visible. Incidentally, Tezpur had come under threat during the Chinese War in 1962. There was panic in the city after Nehru’s speech in Parliament that his heart went out to people of Assam. People started moving out and in the government treasury cash was reportedly burnt.

The Chinese had hit the plains of Assam at Bhalukpong where we
Dirang from the highway
reached the next morning after going across the Tezpur Bridge. Bhalukpong is located on the banks of the Kameng River and is now known for river rafting and angling. But what I remember most vividly is the Nair Mess there where we had finest of sambhars we had ever had with lovely dosas. It was an unlikely place for the Nairs to be, as it was far away from their native land. It reminded me of Baramula in Kashmir where close to it there was a Nair Mess where I had delectable hot vadais. Here we enjoyed the dosas after our “inner line”
Another view of Dirang
permits were checked. This is the place from where one can enter Arunachal only if one possesses an Inner Line permit. At least that is what the position was as I remember it. And thi is also the from where the Chinese went back for reasons best known to them.

Bomdila is 100 kms away from Bhalukpong but the road throughout is mountainous. Bomdila’s elevation is more than 8000 ft. One had, therefore, to climb from around 600 ft to 8000 ft in a matter of 60 miles. As we started to climb the vegetation appeared to be changing
Dirang River
progressively. There were huge plantain leaves that hung over the road. We were told that the plantains of these trees were edible, but only for the elephants. Soon we came across a warning board asking every passerby to beware of wild elephants. Apparently the jungles on both sides of the road still harboured wild elephants. As we went further up we were engulfed in thick fog that continued for a few miles. The fog seems to be a regular feature as there was a warning about it before we came upon it. I think at around 6000 ft the fog cleared up, somewhere up close to Tenga Valley. From there Bomdila was around two hours away.

Bomdila is a very pretty little hill station at an elevation that is more than 8000 ft. It is the head quarter of the West Kameng District but is very sparsely populated. Basically it is a tribal town where Mompas
Another view of Dirang River
dominate. It has a good market and we found a lot of beautiful Chinese and Korean crockery being sold quite openly. Obviously there is pretty good traffic between Arunachal and Tibet. Climatically it is very good particularly in the month of October when we visited. It should be very cold in December and January.

Bomdila is on the way to Tawang which is coveted by Chinese. We had, however, no intentions of visiting Tawang as the journey is very time-taking. We instead went about 30 kms on that road up to Dirang. Dirang is a beautiful little place with a 500 years old Gompa. The views that one gets from Dirang are fabulous.

As the weather was getting adverse we decided to leave Bomdila as were up against the prospects of going downhill on a treacherous mountain road. We safely came down to Bhalukpong and headed towards Guwahati. One couldn’t possibly travel over bad and bouncy roads for seven days at a stretch. Hence we came back to the comfort of our home at Shillong to rest our tired bodies.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Bhopal Notes ::66 :: Repair of Ridge Road

A few weeks back when I was bed-ridden a friend called to invite me for  the “bhoomi pujan” that was being conducted to signal commencement of the work of re-laying the Ridge Road. My wife, who received the call, informed the friend that as I was under advice of complete bed-rest I couldn’t possibly attend the puja.

Next day we were told that there was no “bhumi puja” as the municipal officials said that the road could not be built now as it would have to be dug up to create a trench for the Narmada water pipe line. We have been hearing of the Narmada water pipe line for long but all these years there has been no sign of it. Perhaps it was a ruse again by the municipality for not taking up the work. It was perhaps well and good that the road work was not taken up as the same day the Monsoon arrived with a bang. There were heavy rains for which Bhopal was waiting all through the summer.

I was, however wondering whether the Narbada waters should at all be brought all the way up to the Idgah Hills. . According to my knowledge 90% of the houses and other establishments on the Idgah Hills are supplied water from the Upper Lake. If the Narmada Waters could be brought to the Upper Lake and allowed to flow into it the problem of shortage of water in the Idgah Hills area would be taken care of. Besides, the heavy expenditure of digging a trench up the hill would not be necessary. The lines that already exist would surely be able to carry the water to the households and other establishments.

Another advantage would be that the Upper Lake would never be short of water and, in all probability, the water crises that occur every summer could be avoided. The municipality supplies water to far flung areas by tankers and that progressively depletes the quantum of water in the Lake and on occasions, therefore, the supplies are discontinued. The chances of that happening would also be obviated. What is more, the construction of the Ridge Road after almost 10 years could be commenced soon after the Monsoon withdraws.

But I think the vested interests wouldn’t allow that to happen. There is a lot of money involved in trenching and laying the pipeline. Even the purchase of pipes and the joints take quite a bit and a cut from them is at stake. The municipal engineers always desire more and more of civil work. To expect them to cut down on supposedly sanctioned works is futile. Nonetheless, they could perhaps examine the matter from this new angle

DISAPPEARING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION Rama Chandra Guha, free-thinker, author and historian Ram Chandra Guha, a free-thinker, author and...