Ghadar Memorial

Anirvan Chatterjee’s article (Rebel Legacy, India Currents, March 2014) was very well written and extremely informative. I am pleasantly surprised that the Ghadar movement still catches the interest of so many young people including prominent artists. Chatterjee brought out the true spirit of the movement, particularly its secular character. Present generation Indians probably need to learn from that. The secular character is all the more surprising when we consider that most of the Ghadarites were peasant folk, illiterate or only sparsely educated. India’s independence movement in both India and abroad (e.g. in England) was still dominated by the educated elite. It was only after the advent of Gandhi, a few years later, that common folk got intimately involved in the independence struggle.

The Ghadar Memorial located in San Francisco (5 Wood Street near the crossing of Geary and Masonic) has the pictures of the many martyrs who gave up their lives for the cause. It is truly impressive. I believe the Memorial is open on Wednesdays in the morning. It is really worth a visit.

I am really elated that Anirvan (son of a close friend) has alluded to me in very impressive terms in the article.

Partha Sircar, Concord, CA

Forefathers’ Homeland

With the interesting idea of how freedom is subtracted “when the economics don’t add up,” Jaya Padmanabhan discusses the rights, protections and entitlements of immigrants across the world in her editorial (Freedom Subtracted, India Currents, March 2014). During the war of independence between the settlers and the British monarch, many British soldiers deserted their command and quietly hid themselves among the settlers. They were welcomed with hot soup and corn bread. They also became “legal immigrants” from former enemy combatants. The bulk of the so called illegal immigrants in the United States are Mexicans. Approximately a third of the present geographical entity of the United States was Mexican sovereign territory. Just look for yourselves at the city names, street names, the festivals, cuisine and all else dotting America today.

We are now facing the reality of millions in this country categorized as illegals. The intensely polarized political climate prevents any legislative solution to their plight. We should perhaps remind Congress that just as the Mormon elders from the United States were forced to flee to Mexico (1890s) due to the strict anti-polygamy laws in this country and later lured back with generous land and cash grants for resettlement, so should the present day Mexicans illegals be welcomed back because their ancestors were driven out of their hearths and homes by the U.S.-Mexican war of the 1840s. At least on humanitarian grounds, minimum protections like access to health care, education and skill development in diverse fields of work should be provided to this segment. Most of them have come into their forefathers’ homeland across an artificial barrier stretching over two thousand miles.

P. Mahadevan, Fullerton, CA

Flood Victims

The article by Rajee Padmanabhan (A Flood of Memories, India Currents, February 2014) made me go back 1978, the year I took charge of a bank in Chennai as Branch Manager. I joined in the month of August when the floods took place. The flood-affected low-income group residents were given shelter by the District authorities in various school buildings. The District Collector at that time convened an urgent meeting at her office of all bank officers representing their banks’ controlling offices in that district. I attended the meeting.

After narrating the plight of the flood-affected people, the District Collector requested that the Bank representatives find ways to help out. Back at the bank, my staff and I got together and formed five teams, and after 5:30 p.m. we solicited donations from some of our customers. We purchased grocery items, vegetables, kerosene stoves, kerosene oil, candles and more with the money we collected and distributed it to the flood victims. We did this everyday for three weeks, till the residents shifted back to their homes. I am now 70 years old and Rajee has helped me remember these poignant experiences from my past and I thank her for this.

V. Lakshmana Prabhu, Manasses,Virginia

Vegetarianism and Water Shortage

Many thanks for the interesting article on California’s water shortage (Do We Relax Environmental Regulations during Drought?, India Currents, March 2014). Today, California is undergoing a water shortage. Agriculture is one of the largest consumers, if not the largest consumer, of water. Meat is said to be very water intensive. Thus, vegetarianism has great significance in this context. Mahatma Gandhi whose value is indisputable for all of the world, was a great vegetarian and respected animals when he said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” These days meat is produced from animals who are fed with hormones and antibiotics to enahance productivity. This leads to super bugs that do not respond to treatment with antibiotics. This is another reason to favor the Gandhian approach.

Jayananda Hiranandani, Artesia, CA

Rained Out

What a wonderful piece by Dilnavaz Bamboat (Rain, Again, India Currents, March 2014)! I hate the rains from the very first drizzle down to the flood-causing deluges. Yet, I enjoyed reading this piece about a person who does love it.

Idea Smith, online

Classism

I’m beginning to agree with Sarita Sarvate (Downton Abbey: Triumph of the One Percent, India Currents, March 2014). I had the uncomfortable feeling that I was in the minority!
I watched the Downton Abbey series, and after a few episodes had that weird feeling that the British upper class-system was being retroactively packaged and justified, marketed to the masses—so I googled the much-trumpeted director Julian Fellowes—and, what do you know, he’s a representative of the House of Lords! His post-facto rationalization of cross-class, cross-gender, cross-color, misogynistic prejudices is laughable, and he has the chutzpah to pretend to find justice for the characters of Branson, the Jazz musician, and Carson … So why can’t Fellowes faithfully record the crassness and cruelties of that era?

Let’s admit that soap operas were never meant to provide eye-opening commentary about the social ills of the day, so look at it this way, PBS does have a strong Newshour show and does many worthwhile programs (POV, Nova) and the funds generated from the Downton Abbey series allows PBS to do these kinds of worthwhile projects—so maybe its American Marketing for you!

Guest, online

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