Vignettes of a South African Township called Mdantsane

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Neil Aggett

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Neil Aggett ( 6 October 1953 - 5 February 1982 )was the first white medical doctor to die in detention for his anti apartheid activism. Steve Biko ( 18 Dec 1946 - 12 Sept 1977) also died due to torture and head injuries inflicted during interrogation. He was a medical student at the University of Natal.
The Ninth Annual Neil Aggett Memorial Lecture at Kingswood College , Grahamstown was delivered by Jonathan Jansen, Vice Chancellor of University of Free State on 24 Sept 2014

Neil Aggett Charcoal on Paper by Amitabh Mitra

Friday, December 5, 2014

Havelis of Gwalior

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Acrylic / Charcoal on Paper - Amitabh Mitra

Monday, November 10, 2014

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Thursday, October 2, 2014

“Why Are You Here?”: Multiculturalism and Migration – A Study of Splinters of a Mirage Dawn: An Anthology of Migrant Poetry from South Africa - Femi Abodunrin


The primary aim of this study is to contextualise the African experience within the globalised context of the all-subsuming movement known as globalisation. With Africa itself – to paraphrase Manthia Diawara – often characterized as a continent sitting on top of infectious diseases, strangled by corruption and tribal vengeance, and populated by people with hands and mouths open to receive international aid – the migrant’s experience in South Africa provides a veritable ground to interrogate the intractable term known as globalisation or what Fredric Jameson has described as ‘a sign of the emergence of a new kind of social phenomenon, and one that falls outside the established academic disciplines’. Rodwell Makombe’s terse haiku-like poem entitled “Why are you here”, among other contributions in the anthology, Splinters of a Mirage Dawn, summarizes the migrant’s experience: “Please Sir, I can’t go back to that country/Look at the boils on my back/If you send me back there, they will finish me off”. Where “that country” is located remains an object of mere speculation but the migrant parades unabashedly the ‘boils on my back’ as an identity – an identity which the people ‘waiting to finish me off’ are ready to reinforce if ‘you send me back there’. To inhabit “riparian zones” as another contributor, Sarah Rowland Jones, has termed it, “….those which threaten infestation,/are subject to compulsory removal”. From this perspective, the study examines globalisation and the cultural, political and intellectual space it occupies, including the transcolonial situation it animates. Mapping the transcolonial situation, for example, implies an awareness of the local emergence of difference or what Jameson describes further as “specificity” against “the old universalism that so often underwrote an imperial knowledge/power system,” among other conceptual axes.

Femi Abodunrin, PhD is a Professor in the Department of Languages, University of Limpopo, Sovenga, South Africa.
This paper was presented at the English Academy Conference for Southern Africa at Durban on 28 September 2014.

Key words: Globalisation; Migration, Multiculturalism, Transcolonial

Monday, August 25, 2014

For Irom Sharmila

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Irom Sharmila
Charcoal on Paper

For Irom

they stabbed a sun
multiple times
dragged another sky in chains
declared guilty
legally and thrown in a cell
horizons cowered
in shame and shamelessness
outside dogs barked and quarreled
the Generals continue sipping scotch
on such sky less evenings at

Amitabh Mitra

Renowned Indian Poet Badal Saroj has translated this poem in Hindi

उन्होंने सूरज में, कानूनी रूप से, अनगिनत बार घोंप डाले चाकू
एक और आकाश को बेड़ियों में घसीट कर
मुजरिम करार दे दिया
और धकेल दिया काल कोठरी में ; सो भी पूरी तरह कानूनन
शर्म के मारे दुबक गए क्षितिज
उत्सव मनाती रही बेशर्मी
कुत्ते भौंकते और झगड़ते रहे अनवरत
इम्फाल की ऐसी
एक निर्वात और निरावृत्त शाम में
स्कॉच सुडकते रहे जनरल.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Badal Saroj

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Badal Saroj is the Provincial Secretary of Communist Party of India Marxist, Madhya Pradesh and a Central Committee Member. He is also my childhood friend from Gwalior .
We both share a common thread, inclination towards Poetry and Revolutionary Thoughts.
His work involves in reaching out to the poorest of poor in Madhya Pradesh and its borders with Uttar Pradesh.

Charcoal and Chalk on Paper by Amitabh Mitra

Friday, August 8, 2014

Nadine Gordimer , A Guerrilla of Imagination

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Seamus Heaney described Nadine Gordimer as a "Guerrilla of Imagination"

Charcoal and Chalk on Paper - Amitabh Mitra

Friday, August 1, 2014

Nadine Gordimer

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Charcoal on Paper - Amitabh Mitra

You could impress Nadine Gordimer, disgust her, but not fool her - Gopalkrishna Gandhi - Hindustan Times July 25 2014

This is how it is with everyone, but most strikingly so with writers and artists, they are best remembered when they die

Read More
That is how it is with everyone, but most strikingly so with writers and artists; they are best remembered when they die.

Nadine Gordimer’s death at 90 earlier this month revived interest in her life and work as no event in her life had, not since the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to her in 1991. - See more at:
You could impress Nadine Gordimer, disgust her, but - See more at:
You could impress Nadine Gordimer, disgust her, but not fool her - See more at:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Of Nandan Nilekani, Meera Sanyal and others: the lure of the Indian Parliament - Amitabh Mitra

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As India goes to polls, not many of those voting and even more, those who are grappling for a place in India's elite club, the Lok Sabha, would know that these days coincides with the 20th anniversary of a genocide, in the words of Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to United Nations,"devastating reminder that nightmares seemingly beyond imagination can in fact take place."

There were many objections as I slipped into Masisi, North Kivu, the first Indian ever to do so in my effort to assist the Tutsis in a Complex Humanitarian Emergency. But then an average Indian is far more entranced to a stand on much touted corruption free manifesto of corruption entrenched political parties, rather than thinking of a life beyond genocide in an African country.

Nandan Nilekani has just joined the Congess I. The Infosys executive will also be contesting from Bangalore. Then, Nandan is not alone. There is a virtual rush by political parties in acquiring big names and vice versa. Meera Sanyal, a former executive of the Bank of Scotland, is an AAP contender from a Mumbai constituency.

Nandan, at a TV show, explained the reason for joining Congress I; it was mainly because his family has always been a Nehruvian one and he aspires to the same principles. I thought of my late parents who had held the same Nehruvian principles and voted religiously for the Congress I. Their only son is now writing this article not really wishing to contest but just understand what made them - and people like them - to vote for political parties that never really cared for people. Then again, Gwalior always was and remains, a sleepy town; the elections at times, would break their slumber and people voted en masse without even thinking whether the candidate, after winning the Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha seat, will ever come back to thank them or at least hear their problems.

The 2014 Lok Sabha Polls would be witnessing the election of such people to India’s august body, the Parliament and the people who would be voting for them would strangely remain the same: the exploited and the overruled.

I have asked myself time and again that why should such people suddenly leave, when at their peak of their careers not to join ‘politics’ but to be elected to the parliament, and I really never found an answer

During the seventies, when Bunker Roy, a product of Doon School (Dosco) and a little known sociologist moved to Rajasthan for implementing a model for the betterment of rural communities, nobody actually understood him nor really cared. Similarly, when Kobad Ghandy another old student of Doon School and his wife, Anuradha, left their upper class environs to go to Dandakaranya with the sole ambition for working for tribal rights, people labelled them as ‘anarchists’ and ‘ultra leftists’. It was in the forests of Dandakaranya, Anuradha passed away in April, 2008, afflicted with the dreaded cerebral malaria. I could imagine her last moments wasted physically from the disease, her febrile mind still revolved around the job undone.

I also admire the danseuse, Mallika Sarabhai who recently declared that she wouldn’t stand for elections but would continue to be involved in political social reforms in the province of Modi led Gujarat.

I have also asked myself that if there will ever be a reason for a well known figure as popular as Advani ji to suddenly refuse to stand for elections, and instead suggest that he would rather work for the people at grassroot level as a common party volunteer. I know it’s a utopian question but then a human being has always grappled with such utopian values

The parliamentary seat is a symbol of glamour in India. It comes with its own perks and the individual can always refer himself or herself as a former member of parliament. Deglamourizing this parliamentary seat by actually coming down to work with the poorest of poor in India, is what we think sometimes but then a long trail of history of such elected candidates, corrupt to the core, tells us, an otherwise sad story. Criminalisation of Indian politics is a tale of yore right from independence.

If you take a peek at the careers of such bureaucrats, retired army generals, medical specialists and professors, one actually finds they all have a common trait of being overly ambitious; that they are overcome by a strange tunnel vision, transforming them to arrogant and uncouth individuals. They can never think creatively even in their day to day life, and each one of them has a false notion that they are successful and that they have finally made it to the end of a mighty straight line.

The fight for the Gwalior Lok Sabha seat would be interesting to watch. I do wish that a clean figure, as clean as somebody really 'unknown' would come forward and give hope to people’s aspirations

Meanwhile all the best to Nandan, Meera and people like them.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Khushwant Singh

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Khushwant Singh Sahab, India's leading journalist, novelist and a lover of poetry, passed away today at his home in Delhi. I can only remember him as a humble person visiting me at my high altitude snow clad hospital at Chukha, Bhutan. He wrote about me in his columns in Times of India, 'With Malice Towards One and All' proclaiming me as 'The Mad Man of Bhutan'. This madness still persists. A Charcoal on Paper Drawing is all I did tonight, remembering of moments spent with him.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Rakshat Puri

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The softest and sweetest voice I have ever heard, it is that of Rakshat Puri on the telephone. A giant of a person in the Indo-English Poetry movement since the sixties, I grew up reading his poems, love his work and was inspired to write. When he passed away, I only wished that he should have been recognized with a Padma Award. But then such is the politics of our country, our India. He was an Artist, Poet, Writer and above all a fantastic human being, rare in such a contemporary environment.
His Lahore poems, are undoubtedly the best

Left Behind in Lahore, 1947
Left to its own echoes the house stood
Light brick red. The garden turned to a wood:
Recalled, the house brings back laughter filled days
Rocking logic loose in boyhood ways
Chaos came then in turbulent ways
Came in cloudless dust dimmed days.
Monsoons since then have flung through age bent years
Of Partition sneers, terrorist fears –
Recalled now, home and hearth, left behind
Bring back to an endlessly unstill mind
The presence
Of absence
Signify in memory’s remote recess
All that is now meaningfully meaningless
Left to its echoes, the recalled house now stands
In fading dream that only Time understands

Pen and Ink Drawing by Amitabh Mitra

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cecilia Makiwane, Philatelic Stamp issued by former Ciskei

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Cecilia Makiwane, the first black registered nurse in apartheid South Africa was honored by a philatelic stamp issued by the former bantustan republic, Ciskei. Proud to have that stamp with me finally in my possession. Bought it from a Pretoria collector. The Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in Mdantsane, Eastern Cape is also named after her.

Amitabh Mitra

Friday, January 31, 2014

Life and Times of Amitabh Mitra

An Interview with Mohan Nair, Editor of Indians4Africa

Monday, January 20, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

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I always love painting the fort when I am not in Gwalior, rough pen drawings encircle a lingering legend, and thoughts of you do stay with it as always. The fort within is a river turbulent when skies remain unseen and suns have long drowned; summers have balked to rebel torsos, even before I had left. And I think of you just as I think of breathing in such a river. In darkness of such nights, someone whispers of longing, longing of this river to become a fort again, longing to see your eyes again in disbelief. If only another sun could rise again.

Pastel/Acrylic by Amitabh Mitra