Community News Bites: Sudhindra Dutta Award and San Francisco Asian American Film Festival

Gautam Dutta Receives Sudhindra Dutta Award

On February 15, 2009, “Janmadin” Literary Magazine of Baharampur Murshidabad, presented Gautam Dutta (of New Jersey) with the prestigious Sudhindra Dutta award for his collection of poems “Grihojuddher Dalil”.  He received this award along with Krishnadulal Chattopadhyay, the folk poet of Bankura West Bengal. I congratulate Gautam for this achievement.
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Movie Release : Piyalir Password

Piyalir Password is the first Bengali film shot entirely on locations in the US, particularly in Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC. The movie has been subtitled in English. For more information

The film will be screened at 2:00 PM on 11th April at the TV Asia Studios, 76 National Road, Edison, NJ 08817

The lead actor of the film Rituparna Sengupta will be present in the beginning of the show and talk about the film.

The film is being presented by Center for Social Change, an organization serving individuals with developmental disabilities for the past 15 years, worlwide.

Tickets are $10 dollars and available online at and Additionally ticket reservations can be made with Sonali Ganguly (tel: 732 203 7310) and Devasish Ray (tel: 240 988 1112)

Raj Basu (703)507-6420 (cell)

Harmonium Lecture-Demonstration

RAAGRANG is arranging a Lecture-Demonstration by a noted musician Shree Kedar Naphade on 29th March from 4 to 6 P.M. The event will start with a short vocal recital by young Ria Sabnis. Refreshments will be served after that. Please let us know how many of you will be attending. It is free for the members and $7.00 for the non-members. Hope you can make it.

28 McBride Way
NJ 08807.
RSVP will be appreciated.
(732) 241-7063.

Trouble in IIT Campus

IIT KharagpurIt is ironic to say the least that just when I was enthusiastically reporting the news of the development of an artificial heart by IIT Kharagpur, a young heart stopped beating in the campus. Rohit Kumar, a third year Electrical Engineering student (LLR Hall) died due to the apparent neglect by the in-campus “B.C.Roy Technology Hospital”.  Details about this event can be found in the campus students newspaper “Scholars Avenue” and I will refrain from reporting them once again out here.  However this incident resulted in a student uproar that was unprecedented in the history of IIT Kharagpur. The angry students demonstrated their frustration at the residence of the director of the Institute which resulted in the resignation of the director as well as some other administrative staff. Continue reading

IIT Kharagpur Develops Artificial Heart

Artificial Heart developed at IIT KharagpurMy alma mater, IIT Kharagpur is once again in the news with a great device – an artifical heart. It’ll be to coronary care what Nano is to cars, say scientists at Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, who have devised an an artificial heart that could save lives for just Rs 1 lakh – reports the Times of India. The research team says trials of the prototype lab constructed heart have been successful on small animals and the gadget is being perfected on goats. The institute has applied for permission to conduct human trials. The Total Artificial Heart (TAH) — said to be the first such in the country — has been developed by a team of scientists at IIT-Kgp’s school of medical science and technology. Continue reading

Urhalpool Inaugurated at the 2009 Kolkata Book Fair

Sunil GangulyFew months ago I wrote about the debut of a new Bengali webzine, The magazine has now reached new heights with the introduction of the first hard copy version at the 2009 Kolkata Book Fair. On Saturday 7th February 2009, at 6PM, the UBI auditorium at the Kolkata Book Fair ground was completely packed with people standing all over. Sunil Gangopadhyay introduced Urhalpool with a short speech which was  followed by editor Goutam Datta talking about the vision of the magazine. The Hon’ble consul general of Italy was present on the stage along with Urhalpool’s Italian writer Alessandra Corsini. Several other contributers to the magaine like  Alolika Mukherjee, Subodh sarkar, Mallika Sengupta, Pinaki Thakur, Bithi Chattopadhyay and others were present at the event.  Urhalpool’s  Shakti Chattopadhyay Life Time achievement in Bengali literature award (Rs25,000) was presented to Nabaneeta Dev Sen and Nirmal Chandra Gangopadhyay Sahitya puroskar was awarded (Rs15,000) to Poet Srijato. Poet Shakti Chattopadhyay’s wife Minakhi-di handed over the Shakti Chattopadhyay award and Nupur Lahiri handed over Nirmal Chandra award.  The entire program was conducted by Soumitra Mitra.

Mahasweta Devi Nominated for the 2009 Man Booker Prize

Mahasweta Devi, novelist, author, activistOn Wednesday (18th March), fourteen authors across the world were been named as the contenders for the Man Booker International prize. The long list of writers includes the name of prolific veteran Bengali writer Mahasweta Devi.   Sir V. S. Naipaul is also included in the list. In all 14 authors from 12 countries have been nominated for Booker Prize, which is one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world. The prize given in two years carries prize money of 60,000 pounds and can be won by any author worldwide, provided their work is available in English.
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This is a reminder that we will resume our quasi-monthly Sahitya O Alochana meetings this Friday, March 20, at 8 PM at Ananda Mandir.

Dr. Nupur Lahiri, who recently translated Rabindranath’s “Rakto Karabi,” will lead a (much-anticipated!) discussion on Tagore in Translation. I for one am looking forward to it.

Hoping to see you all there,
Amitabha Bagchi

Jaynagarer Moa to be Patented

Bengali Sweet Jaynagarer MoaThe famous Joynagar moa, a confectionery prepared from date palm jaggery (nalen gur) and puffed, rice could be given a geographical indication (GI) patent. If awarded, the patent would be the second for a produce of Bengal, after Darjeeling tea. Also in the pipeline for a GI patent are Bardhamaner Sithabhog, Shaktigarer lyangcha and Mursidabad silk. Continue reading

Skype Beware! Google Voice is Coming!

Google has announced a new service, Google Voice. In 2007 Google acquired GrandCentral, a phone management service, for $50+ million. Since then GrandCentral was almost forgotten. Now Google unveils the GrandCentral service as voice call service that can give Skype a run for their money. With Google Voice, a subscriber can have a single phone number and any call made to that number will be forwarded to all your phones – home, cell, office or your hotel room. Calls using Google Voice is free within USA. International calls will cost around 2 cents a minute. The other features include sending, receiving and storing text messages, listen-in feature to listen to calls before taking it, voice mail and voice mail transcript service that allows storing and archiving of voice mail messages as text and many other features.
Currently Google Voice service is available only to existing GrandCentral customers. But as soon as it does open its doors, it will surely cause a major dent to Skype and other similar services. Let’s just wait and see how it rolls out.

Chhandayan’s 10th Annual All-Night Concert of Indian Music

Saturday, May 9th from 7 p.m. until Sunday, May 10th 6 a.m.
at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West, 64th Street (corner of 64th Street and Central Park West), New York, NY 10023

New venue, new time – we are starting and ending earlier than before.

It will be one of the most exciting all-nights we ever had with :

  • Duet by George Ruckert (Sarod) and Allyn Miner (Sitar) – Shri Nitin Mitta on Tabla.
  • Bidushi Mitali Banerjee Bhawmik (vocal) – Shri Sailendra Mishra on Tabla, Shri Kedar Naphade on Harmonium
  • Tablaphilia, composed by Samir Chatterjee and performed by the 25-member Chhandayan Tabla Symphony
  • Pt. Vidyadhar Vyas (Vocal) – Shri Dibyarka Chatterjee on Tabla, Shri Kedar Naphade on Harmonium
  • Pt. Soumitra Lahiri (Sitar) – Samir Chatterjee on Tabla
  • Smt. Padma Talwalkar (Vocal) – Shri Utpal Dutta on Tabla, Shri Suyog Kumdalkar on Harmonium
  • Pt. Viswamohan Bhatt (Mohan Veena) – Samir Chatterjee on Tabla.

For further information and online ticket purchase please visit or call us at 973 460 5282.

Bhoomi : The Modern Voice of Bengal

bhoomi bangla band - surojit, soumitra, sanjoy, abhijit, hemantoBengali music found its new voice through band music that has recently proliferated across the land and one of the pioneers of this music is “Bhoomi” the legendary band from Kolkata. The key to Bhoomi’s success is their use of Bengali folk tunes and enrich them using modern musical arrangements. The six member team, with occasional guest artists, have been entrancing their audiences since 1999 with their captivating music. Folk musicals styles like baul, bhatiyali , moishaal, jhumur,saari gaan and qawaali constitutes the primary source of inspiration for Bhoomi’s music. Continue reading

“Origins of the Financial Crisis” and Other Lessons

While the current economic crisis still bogging us down to our knees, I chanced upon an insightful lecture by Dr. Alan Blinder, a Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University. A world renowned economist, Prof. Blinder speaks very eloquently about the multiple causes and culprits of the current economic crisis and also spells out the possible remedies. It was an extremely educational experience for me, and I think will be the same for many people like me who keep on hearing multiple different stories from different sources. Continue reading