Sunday, August 4, 2013


Jack Welch once remarked “To be a winner in this competitive world you need to be lucky; yet hard work and dedicated entrepreneurs seldom miss the luck”. This   remark amply describes the performance of Bibekananda Saikia. He along with his classmate Dhiren Kumar Borah started an engineering firm, of water management and construction, twenty five years ago, with mere Rs five thousand each as the capital. Due to utmost dedication and handwork, the firm’s turn over clocked multimillion rupees as on 2011. “Bibeknanada was a silent but extremely hardworking and dedicated person,” remarked his co-entrepreneur.

   Bibekananda Saikia, a co- founder of a well-known technological firm,” Eastern Engineers” has been an epitome of trust to his friends and public and private sector clients. The Eastern Engineers completed silver jubilee years of business and was an example of solid partnership for the state where most partnership endeavors failed. He died on November 23rd of a brief but incurable illness. He was 65 years of age.

“Saikia”, the utterance of the name brings out a vibration of empowerment to many of his batch mate. They remember him as a decent and compassionate person. This quality of his endeared him among his fellow students in engineering college and later during his business dealings to his colleagues and staff. He graduated from Assam engineering college during the later part of sixties of last century.

 Initially he joined All India Radio as an engineer .After a few years he resigned the job to form an engineering consultancy and implementation firm along with his college pale.. The firm did some pioneering work in the field of Water Management and construction of water delivery system beside industrial, commercial and residential buildings. Many however, remember him for his musical talents. He was a percussionist mainly. Both Borah and Saikia Duo were role –model for budding and aspiring   engineering entrepreneurs of Assam. In Assam whenever some one pronounced the name of their fIrm everyone knew that it is a reference of reverence to the Business Duo who was known for their time bound work delivery, honesty and integrity.

A brilliant student all through he had his early education in Tinsukia, his place of birth, and later studied at Guwahati. He made his name not only as a brilliant student but became much more popular for his helping attitude towards his friends and class mates. He was a compassionate and kind person and this attitude of his reflected in the business dealings as well in social circle throughout his career and life. Not only his family but his classmates and contemporary students were proud of him.

Babul Saikia, a well-known planters from Magors reminiscenced that  “ Bibeka was so dependable that in case someone missed a class he would narrate the exact  class work taught on the day and help his fellow students. Bibeka was not only my class mate but was also my roommate. We lived together for years and there were no occasion when he lost his temper even against all odds”, he added.

Bibeka was a Hindu by birth but later he got attracted to Buddhist philosophy and joined BSG organization. He developed a deep faith in the Buddhist philosophy and could bear all pains of life without showing his agony. He died a valiant death. Perhaps he knew that he was afflicted by incurable dieses but never mentioned to anyone about his agony and sufferance. He came to this world with a cry, but lived with a smile and passed out with  grace. Bibeka is no more with us but his values of life still inspires his friends, colleagues, staff and members of his family. He left behind his wife, Chapakali Saikia and teenaged daughter Sanjibani. To him work was the worship. He was in fact a workaholic. The work was not a duty to him. It was a passion. He felt, only through dynamic work, the entrepreneurs not only could be able to achieve profitability but could also achieve salvation. In fact he applied the theorem of Buddhism into practice. “Work before self’ was his motto. He felt it was the selfless hard work that can only bring about the total inclusive growth with peace encompassing, industrial sector and social sector.

.Bibeka was a total person full of humility, honesty, integrity and hard work. He has remained as the poll Star to all of us to show us the path of honesty, integrity and social justice and to become a good human being. On the occasion of his Shradha Ceremony we remember his decent personality and offer our condolences to the bereaved family. We invoke the blessings of GOD for the peace of the departed Soul.



Hemendra Prasad Barooah will be remembered as one of the true pioneers of green and sustainable business thinking, an art lover and cultured human being from Assam. But he would be most remembered for his excellence in strategy that once saved tea industry from sure collapse in eighties of last century. According to Kallol Dutta, now president Bengal Chamber of Commerce and industry, “Barooah was the main man to handle insurgency and control it in a way so that the impact was least felt in the gardens. Otherwise, many would have lost their lives and estates would have collapsed He stood up as the main man to communicate with the insurgents, the trade unions, the government and the industry. The tea industry has lost a legend.”

   He is known for his ready wits and for clear vision. He could laugh at himself. Once, a Journalist, from Economic media, asked him, after the Annual Meeting of Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at Kolkata, as to how he should be remembered. He instantaneously quipped “As a sincere Indian, hailing from good old province of Assam, with its great culture.” He was a perfectionist. Barooah was the founder of B. & A LTD and one of the leading lights of the green business movement in Odessa and Assam died at age 87, following a massive heart attack. He went to Bangkok on 29th July for a health check up and died there suddenly on 31st July. His niece Dina and his long time Man Friday, Ranjan were with him when he breathed last. He is survived by his two daughters and host of grand children.  His wife and his son predeceased him. In Assam, he is considered not only as an industrialist but as a decent human being who was known for his humane approach to social and cultural cause. We, all his admirers condole his death.
He has been a philanthropist and did set up Kamal Kumari Foundation, immortalizing his mother’s name, to honour writers, scientist, painters and Journalist with national level award every year. He perhaps was not the richest billionaire of Assam, though many persons believed him as such. However, His father Siba Prasad Barooah was really the richest man from Assam during his time that even used to help great multinational like Williamson Magor’s stature during the days of Pat Williamson in thirties and fortes of last century
 Barooah  played a great role in bringing tea auction centre to Assam along with R. G. Baruah even  when  a part of  influential Calcutta  based tea lobby  opposed the move then.. He was a visionary and a great human being and lived the life a king size. Though he generally lived in Kolkata, culture of Assam was his first love. Tea industry later realized his contribution and nominated him as the president of Indian Tea Association during the most critical time of the industry, during the last century.
 Unlike many captains of industry, he led tea   industry from the front, whether negotiating with government or confronting with terrorists. B. M. Khaitan head of Williamson Magor group has been his life long friend who sincerely supported every move Barooah took for the good of the tea industry including setting up of ITA auditorium at Majkhowa, Guwahati , Assam and setting up of Security force more than confronting  terrorists, to build up the morale of the  planting community. He was one of the trustees of the Balaji Temple Trust of Guwahti till his death.
An MBA from Harvard in 1950 and a Padmashree, Barooah, a trailblazer in the tea industry, owned a number of companies, from tea to tourism. His flagship company, B&A Limited, today owns nine tea gardens, from original four gardens after family partition, with an average production of 57lakh kg of tea. The group also owns Assam Tea Brokers Private Limited, B&A Multiwall Packaging, Heritage North East Pvt Ltd and Kaziranga Golf Club Limited. Barooah said that, during later part of  forties, during last century mostly Indian students used to visit England for higher education. It was at the personal advice of legendary Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, a personal friend and Doctor of his father, Barooah, opted for Harvard Business School. It was a great experience for him.
After his son had died prematurely, he   decided to set up the H.P. Barooah Benevolent Trust, which would get a majority of his holdings. The trust would oversee the affairs of his companies.  He wanted to use the profits of his companies for the benefit of Assamese womenfolk and the education of their children. Barooah was also the past president of Bengal Club in Calcutta and also headed the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the eighties. “ Mr. Barooah was and continues to be our company’s heart and soul”, said  Somnath chatterjee, MD of B. & A Ltd,. "His iconic spirit and pioneering vision are not only his legacy, but our future. We will always honour his spirit by keeping his vision alive and the company on course,” he added. I was invited by him to join the board of B& A LTD in 2003 and served as a director of the company for seven years.
A pioneer in tea tourism, Barooah opened up his ancestral home at Jalukonibari, 15km from Jorhat, to tourists in 2000 and named it Thengal Manor. He, also  opened up two more colonial era managers’ bungalows of his gardens in the district at Gotonga and Sangsua to serve an unforgettable tea experience to visitors. His latest venture was opening up of a golf course of international standards, the Kaziranga Golf Resort, at Sangsua to give an added boost to tea tourism. His admirers said that the company’s and other socio – economic activities initiated by him were true  success  for the great vision and leadership of Barooah.
Barooah’s daring confrontation with Ulfa leadership has been a subject matter of a book, “Stranger of the Mist”, penned by  Sanjoy Hazarika during Eighties of last century. He roared like a lion in the meeting when he was questioned as to why he came for the meeting though no invitation was sent to him. Barooah replied that he has every right to be here when all the members of tea association were called and he being the vice president could not stay away.                                  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Remebering Vivekanand: Spirit of the Nation

   Remembering Vivekananda: spirit of the Nation


Vivekananda was not only a monk who brought spiritualism to the reach of millions of people of the world but was a social reformer who inspired the youth for nation building. He advised youth to “Arise awake and stop not till the goal is reached”.

The same Vivekananda at the threshold of youth had to pass through a period of spiritual crisis when he was assailed by doubts about the existence of God.  It was at that time he first heard about Sri Ramakrishna from one of his English professors at college.  One day in November 1881, Narendra went to meet Sri Ramakrishna who was staying at the Kali Temple in Dakshineshwar.  He straightaway asked the Master a question which he had put to several others but had received no satisfactory answer: “Sir, have you seen God?”  Without a moment’s hesitation, Sri Ramakrishna replied: “Yes, I have.  I see Him as clearly as I see you, only in a much intense sense.”
Apart from removing doubts from the mind of Narendra, Sri Ramakrishna won him over through his pure, unselfish love.  Thus began a guru-disciple relationship which is quite unique in the history of spiritual masters.  Narendra now became a frequent visitor to Dakshineshwar and, under the guidance of the Master, made rapid strides on the spiritual path. . The same Vivekananda who was searching for God later realized that God is within the humanity and he advised his disciple to consider humanity as the embodiment of God. His words were “Shiva Rupe Jiba Puja”(Worship human as the embodiment of God)
After the death of his father while his family members faced poverty Vivekananda tried for  a job for the  sustenance of family. He even asked his master to help him get a job. The master told him  that he  cannot ask Goddess Ma ,  rather  Narendranath  should  beg for himself for  the divine blessing. He  went to temple  but could not ask .The young disciples nursed the Master with devoted care when he was inflicted with Cancer.  In spite of poverty at home and inability to find a job for himself  Narendra joined the group of  would be sanyasis  as its leader.
Vivekananda’s greatest teaching was that the history of the world is the history of a few men who had faith in themselves. As soon as a man or a nation loses faith in himself or itself, death comes. Believe first in yourself, and then in God, he added.
Sri Ramakrishna instilled in these young men the spirit of renunciation and brotherly love for one another.  One day he distributed ochre robes among them and sent them out to beg food.  In this way he himself laid the foundation for a new monastic order.  He gave specific instructions to Narendra about the formation of the new monastic Order.  In the small hours of 16 August 1886 Sri Ramakrishna gave up his mortal body.
After the Master’s passing, fifteen of his young disciples (one more joined them later) began to live together in a dilapidated building at Baranagar in North Kolkata.  Under the leadership of Narendra, they formed a new monastic brotherhood, and in 1887 they took the formal vows of sannyasa, thereby assuming new names.  Narendra now became Swami Vivekananda (although this name was actually assumed much later.)
Romaine Rolland the great French thinker and philosopher who attended the Parliament of Religion in Chicago wrote “The effect of those mighty words (of Vivekananda) was immense. Over the heads of the official representative of the Parliament they were addressed to all and appealed to outside thought. Vivekananda fame at once spread abroad and India as a whole benefited…”.(The life of Vivekananda pp 36-40 )
After establishing the new monastic order, Vivekananda heard the inner call for a greater mission in his life.  While most of the followers of Sri Ramakrishna thought of him in relation to their own personal lives, Vivekananda thought of the Master in relation to India and the rest of the world In the middle of 1890, after receiving the blessings of Sri Sarada Devi, the divine consort of Sri Ramakrishna, known to the world as Holy Mother, who was then staying in Kolkata, Swamiji left Baranagar Math and embarked on a long journey of exploration and discovery of India.
During his travels all over India, Swami Vivekananda was deeply moved to see the appalling poverty and backwardness of the masses.  He was the first religious leader in India to understand and openly declare that the real cause of India’s downfall was the neglect of the masses.  The immediate need was to provide food and other bare necessities of life to the hungry millions.  For this they should be taught improved methods of agriculture, village industries, etc.  It was in this context that Vivekananda grasped the crux of the problem of poverty in India (which had escaped the attention of social reformers of his days): owing to centuries of oppression, the downtrodden masses had lost faith in their capacity to improve their lot.  It was first of all necessary to infuse into their minds faith in themselves.  For this they needed a life-giving, inspiring message.  Swamiji found this message in the principle of the Atman, the doctrine of the potential divinity of the soul, taught in Vedanta, the ancient system of religious philosophy of India.  He felt that  the masses needed two kinds of knowledge:  secular knowledge to improve their economic condition, and spiritual knowledge to infuse in them faith in themselves and strengthen their moral sense.  The next question was, how to spread these two kinds of knowledge among the masses?  Through education – this was the answer that Swamiji found.   Swamiji  found  that purity, patience and perseverance are the three essentials to success and above all love. He advised youth to be pure, staunch, and sincere to the backbone and everything else will fall in place, he added.


It was when these ideas were taking shape in his mind in the course of his wanderings that Swami Vivekananda heard about the World’s Parliament of Religions to be held in Chicago in 1893.  His friends and admirers in India wanted him to attend the Parliament.  He too felt that the Parliament would provide the right forum to present his Master’s message to the world, and so he decided to go to America. Another reason which prompted Swamiji to go to America was to seek financial help for his project of uplifting the masses.
Swamiji, however, wanted to have an inner certitude and divine call regarding his mission.  Both of these he got while he sat in deep meditation on the rock-island at Kanyakumari.  With the funds partly collected by his Chennai disciples and partly provided by the Raja of Khetri, Swami Vivekananda left for America from Mumbai on 31 May 1893.

The Parliament of Religions and after

His speeches at the World’s Parliament of Religions held in September 1893 made him famous as an ‘orator by divine right’ and as a ‘Messenger of Indian wisdom to the Western world’.  After the Parliament, Swamiji spent nearly three and a half years spreading Vedanta as lived and taught by Sri Ramakrishna, mostly in the eastern parts of USA and also in London. Vivekananda  declared in the parliament of religion on 11th September 1993 “I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught  the world both tolerance and universal  acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.”, he declared.

Awakening his countrymen

He returned to India in January 1897.  In response to the enthusiastic welcome that he received everywhere, he delivered a series of lectures in different parts of India, which created a great stir all over the country.  Through these inspiring and profoundly significant lectures Swamiji attempted to do the following:
  • to rouse the religious consciousness of the people and create in them pride in their cultural heritage;
  • to bring about unification of Hinduism by pointing out the common bases of its sects;
  • to focus the attention of educated people on the plight of the downtrodden masses, and to expound his plan for their uplift by the application of the principles of Practical Vedanta.

Founding of Ramakrishna Mission

Soon after his return to Kolkata, Swami Vivekananda accomplished another important task of his mission on earth.  He founded on 1 May 1897 a unique type of organization known as Ramakrishna Mission, in which monks and lay people would jointly undertake propagation of Practical Vedanta, and various forms of social service, such as running hospitals, schools, colleges, hostels, rural development centres etc, and conducting massive relief and rehabilitation work for victims of earthquakes, cyclones and other calamities, in different parts of India and other countries.
In early 1898 Swami Vivekananda acquired a big plot of land on the western bank of the Ganga at a place called Belur to have a permanent abode for the monastery and monastic Order originally started at Baranagar, and got it registered as Ramakrishna Math after a couple of years.  Here Swamiji established a new, universal pattern of monastic life which adapts ancient monastic ideals to the conditions of modern life, which gives equal importance to personal illumination and social service, and which is open to all men without any distinction of religion, race or caste.
It may be mentioned here that in the West many people were influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s life and message.  Some of them became his disciples or devoted friends.  Among them the names of Margaret Noble (later known as Sister Nivedita), Captain and Mrs Sevier, Josephine McLeod and Sara Ole Bull, deserve special mention.  Nivedita dedicated her life to educating girls in Kolkata.  Swamiji had many Indian disciples also, some of whom joined Ramakrishna Math and became sannyasins.

Last Days

In June 1899 he went to the West on a second visit.  This time he spent most of his time in the West coast of USA.  After delivering many lectures there, he returned to Belur Math in December 1900.  The rest of his life was spent in India, inspiring and guiding people, both monastic and lay.  Incessant work, especially giving lectures and inspiring people, told upon Swamiji’s health.  His health deteriorated and the end came quietly on the night of 4 July 1902.  Before his Mahasamadhi he had written to a Western follower: “It may be that I shall find it good to get outside my body, to cast it off like a worn out garment.  But I shall not cease to work.  I shall inspire men everywhere until the whole world shall know that it is one with God.”


Thursday, December 1, 2011


The demise of Dr. Indira Goswami alias Mamoni Roisam Goswami was a great loss to the world of letters. Mamoni was the lone writer from Assam who was known throughout India and abroad. She was acclaimed as most powerful writer by critic and common people of India alike. Once while visiting backwater of Kerala, the boatman who drove me around asked me if I belong to the land of Ms Goswami. Such was her reputation that even ordinary people of the country remembered her. To me Mamoni's best book was Dotal Hatir Uwe Khowa Hawoda (The Moth eaten Howdah of a Tusker). She was decorated with many awards. But most important were Jnanpth award, Principal prince Claus Laureate award beside Sahitya Akedami. I could not understand as to why Assam valley literary award could not be conferred on her despite her overwhelming popularity. I salute her for her spirit of humility, power of writing and concern for humanitarian cause.

She was a dear friend from our boyhood days. She was soft-spoken, shy but forthright person from her girlhood days. But she developed strong personality over the years. She was our contemporary in school and classmate in our Cotton college and Guwahati university days. We met each other when we were in class Eight. She started writing since then short stories under the guidance of Kirtinath Hazarika then editor of Natun Asomiya. In fact it was Tilak Hazarika and Kirtinath Hazarika who motivated us to write. I started writing poetry and Mamoni took to short stories. Sooner we realized that Mamoni was far too superior to all of us and she wrote some of the excellent short stories during 1956 and 1957. She wrote poems too. Once in Cotton College She wrote a stage play which was enacted by here all girls College mates as a rejoinder to male dominated College week cultural extravaganza. The drama was a thumping success in 1959. Once while visitng her Delhi House , I enquired:

“: Mamoni, what is the motivation behind your writing career?

: Writing was never my career. It was a passion. Teaching is my profession.

: What compels you to write really?

: My life. I write to enjoy my life. Without writing I would have been a dead Person! Almost all my books reflect my own experience of life.”

During our school days National Boys scout and Girls guide Jamboree was held in Jaipur. Both Mamoni and I were included in the Assam contingent along with few more fellow scouts and guides from all over Assam and Meghalaya under the leadership of Late Rameswar Kalita, a senior official from Scout and Guide movement.. During this journey we developed friendship from a mere acquaintance and it continued till today. Beside attending jamboree we were taken to various other cities of Northern India as a part of sight seeing. We went to luckhnow, Agra and Delhi. On return, I still remember, both of us wrote a few travel stories which were published in “Natun Asomiya” then edited by kirtinath Hazarika. Mamoni became a prolific writer there after, and wrote some of the trend setting stories of life that influenced Assamese society. She was the darling of youth and was blessed by senior for her humility. She moved up with great stories and reached pinnacle of success very early in life. We were proud of her.

The news of her death has devastated us. She has been a great writer, great humanitarian and devoted friends. She talked to me from Guwahati just two days before she fell ill this year and went into coma soon. I regret not visiting her in Delhi or at Guwahati. when she was in her senses. I pay my condolences and pray God for the peace of the departed soul.

She was also well known for her attempts to structure social change both through her writings and through her role as mediator between the banned secessionist group ULFA and the Government of India. Her involvement led to the formation of the People's Consultation Group, a peace committee. She used to refer herself as an "observer" of the ongoing peace process rather than a mediator or initiator.

Her work has been performed on stages and in celluloid. The film Adajya is based on her novel won international awards. Jhanu Barua made a film on her entitled "WORDS FROM THE MIST'. She was a member of the Girls Guide movements while in school. S

Mamoni Raisom Goswami slowly emerged as the Mamoni “bedew’ (elder sister) to thousands of Asomiya language readers. Her stint in Delhi University helped her to build up her reputation as a writer who read her scintillating works in translation. Amrita Pritam was her one of the best friends among others. Her departure from this world has left a void in the literary circle of the country that would be hard to fill. Though we knew She is gravely sick but never thought that she would depart so suddenly. Mamoni used love people. She would not disappoint any one who approaches here for an autograph. She encouraged young writers especially girls.

Mamoni was a Sitar player in her youth. The sight of her graceful walking along the M.C. Road, Guwahati with a Sitar on her hand is still fresh in my memory. She used to come over to the residence of Bharalis, next to our house, and accompanied Minati Bharali sometime who was also a co-Sitar player. Both learnt Sitar from Late Sunder Bordoloi at Kumar Bhaskar Natya Mandir at uzanbazar.

Mamoni was born into a privileged family and her early education was in Pine Mount, a premier English medium school in Shillong. Later She came to Guwahati and took admission in T. C. School. The headmistress of the school, Indira Devi was at first hesitant to admit her, coming from an English medium school. But soon mamoni proved how intelligent she was. She not only picked up the vernacular language but mastered it in such way that her teacher were awe struck. As Ranjita Biswas puts it “Ms Goswami writings focused on the suffering of the disadvantaged section of society. She understood the joy and pathos of the common people. Her novels and short stories reflected her empathy for them whether the setting of the plot was Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh or the green landscape of the Brahmaputra”.

She championed the cause of women throughout her career. Brought up in a conservative Brahmin family, Mamoni never compromised with the artificial diktat of the social norms, — be it while marrying someone out of the community, or in the way she wrote.

Mamoni always relished everything good in life. She loved good food, loved to attire well and was always well-groomed like French ladies. She was great in conversations and enjoyed the company of her friends always. Always mamoni had lot of time for her close friends. Mamoni loved Kolkata and used to visit often for lecture programme and for release of books. She is to write for “The Telegraphs” from time to time. Her latest writing was published as late as in November this year on Dr. Bhupen Hazarika’s death. The article must have been written 10 month before when she went into coma.

I feel her most of writing were great. But to me best novel of here were “Dotal Hatir Une Khowa Howda”> In that novel, she chronicles the saga of a young Brahmin widow Giribala who, since the death of her husband, had eaten only rice and boiled pulses and now shocks the society by eating meat surreptitiously.

The defiance of the protagonist Giribala, as she challenges the norms set by society for Brahmin widows in 19th century Assam is echoed again in Nilkonthi Braja depicting a much later period (the 1960s) in holy Vrindavan. In one of the earliest contemporary novels on the plight of widows in the religious circuit, it reflects on the suffering of thousands of Bengali widows living on the edge.

Mamoni’s stories reflect in the basic goodness of human beings, though it is constantly challenged by opposite forces. Her writing has a basic honesty, even when talking about herself. In the autobiographical Adha Lekha Dastavej (Life is no Bargain), she talks openly about her obsession, since she was young. Description of love making and sex was not a taboo in her writing.

Her reputation as a Ramayana scholar is well-known. Though she was in Delhi for a long stint as professor of Assamese literature in the Delhi University she never lost touch with her native land. A few years ago, going out of her literary world she took the initiative to try build a bridge between the outlawed ULFA faction and Assam’s administration to bring peace to the insurgent ridden land. Her heart was always in the well-being of the state. Her works have been widely translated into English and Bengali Languages.

With the demise of Mamoni Assam, nay Indian literature has lost a writer and humanist extraordinaire. I met Mamoni when I was young boy of 14 years; today I am Seventy years old. I had same admiration for her when she was also young. I have seen how strong willed persons she was in her life. I invoke the blessings of God for the peace of the departed soul. She has gone today but her writing would remind us her strength of mind. She possessed a beautiful mind. It always worked for the betterment of humanity.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011



“Music is the highest art, and to those who understand, is the highest worship”
Swami Vivekananda
The departure of Bhupenda created a void in the world of music, culture and human warmth. But greatest loss would be to the value for which he strived most, the human brother hood and for a field of integration (Somonoyer Khetra). His all lyric, stories, personal essays and even music were to achieve this purpose of emotional integration amongst the humanity of the world. He traveled and traversed from Ottawa to Columbia, Brahmaputra to Volga ,Sunghphoo to Padma with only one intent in mind. Unification of human mind .He lead the life of a gypsy but embraced the entire world as his family. . It is almost impossible to bind Hazarika’s personality to any dogma. He is free as a bird yet he would always like to live amidst the humanity like Wordsworth’s Cuckoo. It is not important where he lives now. But for whom he stands today? The answer is simply he wants to live for the wellbeing of humanity.
In strict sense of the term he was not a family man. He had no fixed relatives but had only relations with humanity. In his broader vision, he had neither wife, nor son; not even his brothers and sisters. They were his friends along with the timing millions who lived in this world. Once in my Kolkata home, during the planning session of poetry recording in 1977 we were discussing mundane things as always and I suddenly asked him …

: Bhupenda, don’t you feel the absence of a family now?
: Not really! My family extends to my friends like you and beyond… to the struggling people in the field and plants.
: You are kidding Bhupenda, I replied
: No, I am not. I am a restless man, you know. I resigned my jobs at the university and Radio for my soul need to remain unbound.
: What about your relations with your parent?
: I greatly love my Mom! I dreamt her often. But I have been a worthless son, a worthless husband, a bad father too. I even could not play with my son during his formative period.
: But you have been a loving brother, by you own admission!
: Even I could not take care of them fully except for initial education for sometime. I could not help my father during his retired life. He did so much to settle me down. Actually, I am not really destined for a planned and bgugdmd/lifikwtyle. I am a roving minstrel ….. And Bhupenda suddenly started reciting aloud…..
“I am a gipsy
I scour the ends of the earth
But wouldn’t look for a home
From Luit to the Mississippi
I marveled at the Volga
From Ottawa through Austria
I made Paris my own.”
(Moi ek jajabar)
Many of his friends knew that Bhupenda was a great in recitation. He used to recite poem of joytiprasad “ JUGANTORER MOI , KALANTORER MOI” with his husky voice to a great effect . He however had not recorded too many recitation of poetry, either of his own or of others. In 1976 when Gramophone Company of India had cut the first ever poetry recitation record of Assamese poets, Bhupenda’s natural choice was the poem composed by Joytiprasad Aggarwala. Other declaimers like Ishan Barua, Manjumla Das, Amarjooyti Chowdhury and Arunima Saikia, who also participated in the recording, were thrilled to hear his recitation. It was an unique experience for them and his way of recitation brought out goose pimples on them .No sooner he finished recording, unknowingly all of them, including the sound recordist Mallabuzar Barua, clapped in unison. The name of the record was “Saptarshi”. The record was produced by me and music was scored by Dr. Bhupen Hazarika. The record is not easily available now. But some of the Assamese families have kept that record as their prized passion. I recommend to every admirer to listen to the recitation of the poem by Bhupen Da. It would be a unique experience. In fact this recitation could be reproduced and rerecorded by any of his admirer for the posterity, before the last copy is lost in oblivion“
Give me a white man whose blood is white
Give me a Black man whose blood is black
You would get whatever you want
If you can give me in return”
(Jonab Fakir of Bangladesh)
This song reverberated from the voice of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika of Assam long before Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in America. Dr. Hazarika was a true disciple of the great Saint Sankardeva of Assam and was later influenced by the philosophy of the greatest cult singer Paul Robson of USA. He transcended the walls of his classroom at the University of Gauhati, India in fifties of the last century and took the high road to various corners of the world. He traveled the world from Arunachal to Chicago, from Ottawa to Austria. He spoke of Gorky while sitting at the grave of Mark Twain.
More than his life, he got tumultuous ovation on his death from common men of the street. People came from every walk of life to pay their homage to the soul of the man whom they loved from the core of their hearts. It was a unique scene. There were tremendous people on the street of Guwahati, at his residence, at judges field where his body was kept to enable his ardent admirers to pay respect and also during the cremation ceremony at Guwahati University campus. Altogether more than million persons physically paid homage to Bhupenda at Guwahati. I was in Los Angeles in 2009 and was witness to the human euphoria of mourning the death of Michel Jackson. I was in Kolkata when legendary Satayjit Ray died . There were seas of humanity in all these mourning. But love and affection for Bhupenda drew much bigger crowd at Guwahati. Approximately 1.5 million people came out to pay their last respect. It was a rare sight to find that many people kept on visiting the place of cremation even after a week. Incidentally, his first job was in the same campus. Here he wrote one of the finest songs of the century which was sung as chorus on the inaugural day of the university.
“The Banks of the Luit will brighten
Breaking the barrier of darkness
In Pragjoyotish flows
The fountains of light
Hundreds of light .
In a Depawali of wisdom
Will brighten the banks of Luit
The parchment will give us words
The siphung hope
And the Ranghar will open the doors
Society will embrace
Mighty humanity
And science will bring a tide.” (Jilekaba Luitore Par)

A cult figure to us:
I met Bhupen Dada, for the first time, in 1955 at Calcutta Movie tone Studio. He was in Calcutta those days to score the music of “Piyali Phookan”, a film directed by another giant Phani Sharma. I was brought to Calcutta by Lakshydhar Chowdhury to act in his film “Nimila Anka”. From that day onward I became a fan of Bhupenda and our association lasted till date. Like him I settled in Kolkata later in my life and we were neighbour when I started living at Thana House of Tollygung .
To many people in India he has been a great singer. To some people he was a wonderful film maker, to some he was an excellent lyricist. For some he was a dear and respected teacher. But to us he has been a cult figure who empowered our generation with his voice, deeds and writings. Whenever the country is in turmoil he has been there to raise his voice for the upliftment of the downtrodden. He is a humanist per excellence. The lyrics are his bullets and his voice is the machine gun. He has inspired several generations in India through his lyrics, songs, films and writings. His greatest weapon is his system of communication. He can communicate with everyone of every age and can persuade to his point of view at ease. The mother and the daughter, the father and the son are always competing with each other to have a share of Dr. Hazarika vocal tonic, companionship and friendship. Always Bhupen Hazarika had remained a youth full persona : an eternal Dada. He has retained the eternal youthful vigor. Even a child can communicate with him as Dada but we have became “grandfather”. Often we marveled at how he managed his time. He was sought after by the communists in West Bengal, the Congress always wanted him and the BJP asked him to come to their side. But Bhupenda always remained with the mass. No freshman social was a resounding success in Bengal with his participation. In Calcutta all the employees associations of merchant offices wanted Dr. Hazarika in their cultural shows. On many occasions I was approached by the McLeod Russell cultural association to put a word to Bhupenda so that he can accept the invitation to their cultural bash. Bhupenda always obliged.
Once in 1975 Bhupenda and I had to share a room at Kaziranga Tourist lodge. I was on my way to visit Jorhat and stayed back at the tourist lodge. In the evening when I returned back from the inner sanctuary then Tourist officer came and met me. He told me that Bhupenda is on his way to Guwahati and had to stay for the night and there was no room. Would I min if he share the room for the night. I told him that it would be pleasure to spend the night together. That night was a great night for we talked many things of his life.
: Bhupenda, you have been activist of IPTA. Some says you are communist. Is it true? I asked
: I am a Marxist. I read Marx and Angel and that inspired my mind to elevate downtrodden.
: But you have been visiting Kamakhya temple too. Are you a religious person?
: Yes I am religious. My religion is service to humanity. I do not worship God with flowers. My flowers are my lyrics. I believe in Divinity. To me, Religion is the expression of divinity in human being. You know my music is my offerings to God. I have no personal God. I worship with music to empower downtrodden, he replied.
:Do you feel elevated when you sing.
: I feel greatly happy when I compose a poem, a lyric and when I sing
: I have already written that my songs harbour no destructive vision. it envisages an unprecedented peace.
His songs empowered us to raise our voice. We were motivated to fight back against corruption, terrorism and social degeneration and poverty. For last few years, Dr. Hazarika was mostly in Bombay in the loving care of Kalpana Lazmi and his Doctors.. He felt reassured there. But his mind always travels to Assam. Physically he feels sometime very weak but mentally as strong as steel. Bhupenda is as iconic to Assam as Rabindranath is to Bengal and Robert Burns is to Scotland, Tolstoy to Russian and Mark Twain to America. He is a phenomenon which arrives once in a blue moon in a society. To me his most outstanding song is: “Bimurta Nishate”…
“This my ethereal Night
Is a blue scarf
Woven of silence
In its folds
Tender breathing
And live warmth”.
This is the song Bhupen Da also loves most. He loves all his creations. But this song appeals to him the most.
He was 85 years young man when he died. None of his blood relations were present, except “Toto”(Sanjib Hazarika) his favourite nephew, near his death bed. He however was surrounded by his soul mates of life. From Kalpana to Anuradha, Pradip to Manjula beside Manisha Hazarika (his
Sister in law) Rajshri and Baba were also present. Anuradha gave the vivid account of the last moments of Maestros life in the hospital at Bombay. …..(sADIN)
“When I reached his room in the hospital his eyes were closed. Kalpana whispered to the semi conscious Bhupenda “, look Bhup who has come! It is Anuradha from Guwahati”. There was no response for a while. A moment later his eyes opened up for a moment and closed down again! Jayashri( Marthi friend of Kalpana) shouted “ look he responded. .His sixth sense must have realized some one nearer to him has come”…. I knew that these were only expression of optimism. In fact I turned stone seeing his conditions with three pipes entering into his throat and host of monitors recording his physiological data. Bhupenda who always hated gadgets, even cell phones, is now struggling with such artificial help!
On 5th November Dr. Sailendra Goyal came to examine him. We all were outside his room only pradip and Baba were inside the cabin along with the Doctor. His blood count seemed ok but platelets was falling down. --- Those were the most of agonizing moment. Maha Mritunjoy Slokas were played for his wellbeing. I asked Joyoshri, why not his own songs? Doctors came next day, examined and told to stop these songs. This is the time to play Hazarika’s own creation. He would understand that better. Doctors kept on examining him. We were out side the room but his body monitors were visible to us.
It is around 11.30 am Dr. Goyal visited his chamber. Examined him for twenty minutes.
He came out, aftr examinations and told Kalpana his blood pressure is falling rapidly. It will be difficult to stimulate him any more. You may loose him sooner or later. We all felt depressed. Monitors in front of us were fluctuating rapidly.
Whenever blood pressure came up we hoped for good news. We could realise he was fighting. He was a great fighter always. Kalpana started her prayers aloud…. Suddenly we saw on the monitor blood pressure and pulse rate were loosing grip. It was falling rapidly. The curves on the monitor reflected the depression and right in front of our eyes the moving graphs on monitors became straight lines.. …. He was no more”
The news of his departure was conveyed to me immediately by a friend of mine. Anuradha flew back next day from Bombay via Kolkata. She gave me the full description. My mind filled with emotion and nostalgia of yester years. I remembered his lyric “When I’ll have gone from this life”……
When I‘ll have gone from this life
Breaking all tie and bonds
I hope by my pyre I‘ll find
Your solicitude.
I do not want memorial services
Nor false eulogies
A drop of tear from you
And I’ll have had my due. (Moi Jetia ei jivnor)
Kalpana is misunderstood by most, but is admired by Bhupen Dada. She has been a friend philosopher and companion all combined together to Bhupenda. Bhupenda was her guide. Let us accept the reality. Despite opposition of a section of well wisher Bhupenda admires her relations with him. That is the truth and whole truth. Let us honour his feelings and emotion, if we love him.
Bhupenda had gone but his values would always remain alive with timing millions. Building up of a memorial edifice does not always make a person immortal. It is the love of people which make a person everlasting. The culture of “ Bhupendra Sangeet”, if taught to our children, would perhaps be able to keep Bhupenda alive in the heart of timing millions even after hundreds of years, like Rabindra Nath was kept alive not by government but by the effort of his admirers. That would be a real tribute to Bhupenda ;s Legacy who made world his home. Let every district of Assam have an institute of Bhupendra Culture. Can this work be taken up by AASU with concurrent grant from Government of Assam? If one Million mourners who came to pay respect contribute Rs 100/- a person organizers would be able to gather Rs 5crore with matching grant from Govern met and NRI from Assam a good amount will be available to start the work. Would someone take the lead? Otherwise posterity would say Assamese is a race of “Memoriall Service Attendees” only (in the language of Homen Borgohain Soradh Khowa Jati: Amar Asom of 12th November).
Aftermath of demise of Bhupenda the responsibility of our society has increased by manifold. We must protect whatever values he has built up over the years. Mostly all the mourners of the country have shown commendable discipline while his body was lay in estate .Only sad incident which marred the cremation ceremony was uncivilized behavior of one of the well-known artist who, perhaps was considered by some ,as successor to Bhupenda . There were large scale condemnations of such behavior. Our society must be vigilant that such incident does not occur again for that would be an act of disrespect to the great soul whom everyone considers as an icon of love and tranquility. While he was alive he declared…
“Let my songs be
A profound assurance
Against the pervading lack of trust.
Let my songs be
A hymn to truth
Against false imaginings “


Friday, September 16, 2011


Dr. Amrit Baruah, a former Associate Professor at Yell university and Chairman of the department of public Administration etc of Maryland State University and one of the best -known social scientist based in Baltimore, U.S.A. once told it was good to provide a fish meal to a hungry person but it is far too important to teach the hungry persons as to how fish could be caught for their livelihood. The first action was a compassionate deed but the second action was an act of empowerment. The second action was far too superior to the initial action. Mr. Pradip Sharma really took up the second action and empowered a whole lot of persons who were deprived lot.

I am very happy to learn that Sharma started his enterprise singly first and involved lot of persons later. Today not only local Gramin( Rural) Banks are involved in his projects but also nationalized banks , well-known educational institutions of the world, including MIT are involved to crate a climate of self help.

Mr. Sharma’s Project model is simple yet has far reaching consequences. He does not spoon feed but empowers a group to be responsible to pay back the debt incurred by the individual members of the group. It brings about a sense of social responsibility. His project is in low tech areas, but have high social values and relevance. Sharma should be congratulated for his venture. We are proud of his effort that has been able to motivate western intellectual to stand beside him to help crate economic rejuvenation of a group of citizen from below poverty level. It is an act of emancipation. His project did elevate a section of people who were struggling to meet both the ends of their life to be a socially responsible entrepreneur. It is this effort of his which is most meaningful to the society.

Sharma has brought in a new sense of responsibility to the society. This act of his has motivated, I understand, a section of people to reach out to empower poorer section of society. I came to know of this project from the writing and a promo film by Mr. and Mrs Ankur Borah. I did suggest that to earn extra few rupees by promoting organization a tie up could be thought of with some of the cold drink companies for advertisement space on the back of the rickshaw.Even Rickshaws can be designed to install a small battery cum solar paneled cooling machine to store cold drinks through promotional efforts from Pepsi or Coke.In hot summer days travelers may like to buy cold drinks while traveling, buy a book or take an on line accident and medical policy. Insurance companies could be made a partner in supporting the project in lieu of advertisement on the back of the rickshaw.

My congratulations to Mr.Pradip Sharma not only for doing a socially responsible work but for the encouragement he has provided to others of the international community to get involved with third world country’s community for economic empowerment.


Monday, June 6, 2011


Since equity plans not doing very well over the last years people are seeking alternative avenues for investment now. Most people are investing their money in Fixed deposits of Banks and in Fixed Maturity Plans. In investment horizon there are many plans to invest our money in the market.. There are equity fund, index funds, debt fund, ELSS and fixed maturity funds beside fixed deposit of Banks. Among all the funds fixed maturity funds are less risky. One thing must be kept in mind that fixed maturity funds are not risk proof as generally made out to be.. It however is next best to the fixed deposit in bank, PPF, SCSS etc as far as security of money is concerned. Fixed Maturity Plan protects capital but is open to interest rate risk. It provides better return most of the time than fixed deposit. This fund is popularly known as “FMP”

The reason investors choose FMPs is for their high returns which are also indicated but not guaranteed. In order to give assured returns, FMPs opt for very secure investment options like AAA rated corporate bonds whose maturity tenure matches the maturity tenure of FMP. However in the recent times, some of these FMPs started investing in commercial paper from real estate and finance companies, in order to give higher returns on their investors. The long term FMPs become more tax efficient as it does not attract income tax due to double indexation.

The investing in FMPs allows an investor to earn higher returns while minimizing their exposure to the risk. As a result, many fund houses have introduced their FMPs to entice investors to invest with them. But what are FMPs? Are they safe as they seem to be? If not, what are their pitfalls? We explained in the beginning of the article about the myth surrounding the FMPS. It is not always safe like Bank FDAs the name implies; these plans have a certain maturity period. They are closed-ended funds, meaning you can invest in them only when they are open for purchase. This is only during NFO period. To redeem your investment, you need to wait for the pan to mature or pay a stiff 2% exit load. Generally FMPS are for around 13 to 18th month’s period. Incase you can survive the period a handsome gain could be expected. If you take out during midstream you loose money as there is high exit load.

How FMPS could provide better return than bank F. D.? In order to give assured returns, FMPs opt for very secure investment options like AAA rated corporate bonds whose maturity tenure matches the maturity tenure of FMP It is however a myth that there is no risk in FMP. Despite their claims of being one of the safest investment options around, FMPs do have their own share of risks. A few of them are as under:

Those FMPs offering higher yield can afford to do so by investing in risky investment options. This has been evident in 2008, when these funds faced liquidity crisis due to their exposure to real estate and finance companies. . In the recent times, some of the FMPs started investing in commercial paper from real estate and finance companies, in order to give higher returns to their investors. When the finance and realty companies landed in trouble during the recent economic downturn, their offerings also lost value Investors pulled out in panic. With the investors pulling out their investments from these FMPS, the funds were forced to offload their investments in the illiquid markets, thereby causing liquidity crisis. But ultimately investors who stayed invested did not loose at the end of the period and go almost assured returns. The actual yield will depend on the yield on the debt instruments at the time of actually investing your money. In reality the FMPs offer safety of their capital, but they do not offer protection against interest rate risk. As the interest rate rises, the value of the bonds goes down. This sometime can affect the returns of the fund.

What precaution investors should take while opting for FMPS. To get the best out of FMP certain precaution should be taken. Always check the indicative portfolio of the funds. In case you find any non AAA security avoid the particular FMPs. The assured yields are on the indicative yield as the actual return indicative and suggestive and should not confuse with guarantee. Sometime there are wide gap between yield shown while launching and actual yield at the time maturity. Sometime it is more but sometime it can lower.

The golden rule is to stick to the maturity period of the plan. Don’t withdraw half way through as it will force the fund manager to redeem investments at any available price, thereby causing losses to you as well as other investors. The FMPs are good investment for risk adverse people of middle age group. But do not put all the eggs in one basket. You can invest 10% of the total investment in fixed maturity plan and earn better returning compared with the Fixed Deposit of Bank. But for persons who don't come under income tax ambit fixed deposit of bank at the rate of 10.5% are more paying than FMP now. It would be for individual persons to choose what suits them best.