Saturday, December 12, 2009


DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,

For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,

Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

The Divine Sonnet X is a well-known religious poem by John Donne. I have reproduced only a part of it above. I have chosen this famous title for my note because death has also chosen me to be its representative, its champion.

One very strange phenomenon that has repeated many times in my life so far is that whenever I have tried to help a sick and troubled individual, man or animal, it has died soon after. This could be a common experience with all since death is normal irrespective of the help and medical aid provided. Maybe I am making an issue out of it. Then again, maybe not.

Let me recount a few instances. The latest ones first. During the past four week I have carried two stray dogs in injured condition to the vet. One of them was a 10 day old puppy. It had its ear bitten off, rot had set in and there was a big hole on its skin just besides the eye. It was shivering and crying in the cold early morning when I found it. Initially I walked past it, stopped and turned back. It came to me with its small steps, sat down near my feet and was sobbing in pain. After a few minutes of arguing with myself I committed the silly mistake of picking it up and bringing it home. The crying stopped after I picked it up but I had a tough time trying to avoid seeing the hole where its ear stood. I gave it some milk and placed it inside a bucket because it was moving around. On route to my office I handed it over to the SPCA hospital. About a month back I sighted a grown up stray dog with one of its front leg chopped off and the bone jutting out into the sunlight. It was limping on its other legs. It took me 24 fours to muster the foolishness to decide. Decision was to help the dog. I took a string and a pack of Parle glucose and went near the dog. It looked as if the dog wanted to help me because it had placed itself near my car and did not trouble me trying to look for it. One by one it ate the biscuits that I offered and allowed me to touch its head and back. Snatching one opportunity I held both its jaws and tied the string around its mouth to shut it. It started crying when I tried to pick it up. With the help of a few office staff I got it picked up and placed inside the car and went straight to the SPCA hospital. Today I learnt that both the dogs died. The elder one was operated upon so as to cut off some part of the bone to bring the skin over it and stitched. It survived three weeks in the hospital, could have died because of the shock, the pain and the loneliness. The pup had full grown maggots inside which had penetrated the head. It died as soon as it was taken to the table for cleaning.

I am a member of the Japanese Buddhist group called the Bharat Soka Gakkai. The members involve themselves in chanting for courage, wisdom and peace and happiness for one’s own self and for others. Chanting for the sick is a regular feature. On two separate occasions during the past two years when I joined in for the improvement in the health condition of a sick member, the individuals died. Of course these members had some illness and disease and for arguments sake they could have died in the normal course of advancement of the disease. However there are numerous instances of people who have come back from the doors of death by chanting and struggling with a hope to survive. Somehow I have identified my presence in the group as a sore thumb. After that I have stopped chanting for the health of others. The occasions were forgotten until today when I learnt about the death of the two dogs.

Repeated occurrence of similar events cannot be put down to chance and coincidence. Whether I seek death or whether death seeks me, whichever way you look at it, there seem to be a bonding.


Failure is not something to dread, rather it is something to appreciate. It teaches us valuable lessons. There is always a positive message in failures which we ignore at our own risk. Failure is not the plague which leads us to destruction. However the ways of the world are such that the contrary is accepted.

For one, failure teaches us humility. It grounds us to the basic reality of our life. Many a times we wish to overlook our reality and assume certain capabilities or talents, living as if in some dream. We take on undue volumes of stress in our life trying to live up to our high expectations. We take pride in our efforts banking heavily on the idiom ‘nothing is impossible’. Pride precedes a fall they say and sooner or later we have to stumble. Such a fall can either wreck or enhance our lives. The latter happens when we accept who we are with all our limitations and not so good characteristics. Humbleness shifts the focus towards our inherent weakness and makes us introspect. Humbleness tells whether to life with our weakness or to overcome it. It also tells us how to overcome it. Humbleness teaches us to appreciate all the minor goodness in others. Humbleness places us in the right perspective and shows us our true place in the world. Nature or God has created a place for everything and has a role for everything in its own place. When humans do not accept the regulation of nature, tries to take law in its own hand, they create problems for themselves and disturb the balance of nature. It would be better if we, accepting our lives, serve the purpose which nature has ordained for us and in the process create happiness and harmony for one and all.

Second, failure is the message which life gives us saying that something better is in store for us. The two very important guides which help us understand the message are; Nothing Happens Without A Reason and Whatever Happens, Happens For The Good. When we analyse our failure over a subsequent period of time, the facts never fail to dawn that we are better off because of our past failure. For instance, I have seen on one occasion that I was held up in a prolonged meeting unable to reach another scheduled meeting in time. After the first meeting ended where a lot was achieved I learnt that the second meeting was postponed for some reason not related to my absence. It requires patience, it requires acceptance, it requires a positive attitude, and most important of all it requires faith in our own life. Failures, not one but many, it is said are the stepping stones for success. Higher the destination, more the steps. Stronger the success, worse the failures. To go through such failures also builds strength of character.

There is a reason why I am writing this piece. For the past one year I have been trying to get an admission into some institution for further studies. First I tried social service and the institutions I had applied for were TISS and IRMA. No success. Next I tried for a PhD and the institutions I had applied for were IIM and IIT. No success again. I have not been able to get past the entrance test in two of the instances. Where I got past the entrance obstacle, they rejected me in the interview. The results made me sad no doubt. But life has other better plans about which I am not aware now. I am certain that the world is waiting for a Suman Bose to happen. Meanwhile I am learning humility now, the hard way. Strange are the teaching methods of life.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tibetans in India

Last Saturday I attended a talk by Karme Galec a first generation Tibetan settled in India. He is the Chairman, Tibetan Local Assembly, Tibet Camp, Gottangaon, Bhandara, Maharashtra state, India. Listening to a mongoloid feature for the first time in life was somewhat unsettling because I am told that we the Bose’s are also of mongoloid descent. Phew!

My apprehension however was unjustified. A simpleton farmer but at the same time very rugged. A people who do not comprehend the remarkable value of what they have created and achieved for their community. A people with ultimate reverence and gratefulness for their leader the Dalai Lama.

Karme Galec spoke about hardship being faced by his people inside Tibet where they are not allowed to practice their religion and worship images of the Dalai Lama. He insisted and reiterated several times that Tibet was willing to remain a part of China but with some autonomy. He even added that India would never feel secure until Tibet was made a buffer against prospective Chinese invasion. He described at length about their migration from Tibet in 1959 exactly 50 years ago. His people came into Maharashtra in the month of March and how due to the sudden exposure to new climate with oppressive heat many thousands died. Slowly over the years they learnt to acclimatize. Initially they were provided with rocky and forest land. Slowly they cleared the land and made it cultivable. Today in the Vidarbha region they are only community of farmers which is thriving and is being spoken of as a role model. There has been farmer’s suicide all around except the Tibetan settlement. The Tibetans also take loans for their agriculture but their repayments have been exemplary. They stand out as positive megastars when there is defeat and pessimism all around. They value education highly and every Tibetan child is educated. The intelligent and studious amongst them work for their Tibetan Parliament in exile at Dharmshala Himachal Pradesh. No child has so far shifted to US or Europe for his or her own personal development he claimed. There are 24 settlements of Tibetans considering India, Bhutan and Nepal together and most of them are in India. These settlements nominate candidate for the Tibetan parliament in exile. This Parliament takes care of their needs and follows a democratic style of functioning. I believe that is democracy which they experience and want to continue with along with religious freedom could be main obstacles in their negotiations with China.

The Tibetan Parliament has so far interacted 8 times with Chinese authorities and the last one was in 2008. They have provided the Chinese with all their requirements but no positive response is forthcoming. To my mind it is not possible for the Chinese to yield to all the requirements of the Tibetans. China is still run with a iron fist which does not tolerate diversity of opinion. Even expression of the differences is taboo. It is but natural that if Tibetans are allowed some sort of freedom then the other parts of China will also wake up and make their own demands. That would be a sure shot route to the disintegration of the country. Maybe the Tibetans will have to wait out the disintegration of China from inside pressure. It may take a few more decades.