Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

METVERSE MUSE Nos. 54th to 56th Issue (June 2019)

August 22, 2019

Editor: Dr. H Tulsi (Age 82 plus) – INDIA

Presenting over 350 poems in structured verse by Poets representing around 45 countries…

Poems by Leonard Dabydeen (Canada)

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BOOK REVIEW: MISCELLANEOUS MUSE, A Collection of Poems by Dr. H. Tulsi – Self-Published – First Edition: October 2018 – 126 pages – ISBN 81-901364-06





BOOK: COOLIE ODYSSEY by David Dabydeen

August 21, 2019


  • Paperback: 50 pages
  • Publisher: Hansib Publishing (Caribbean), Limited; UK ed. edition (Feb. 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1870518691
  • ISBN-13: 978-1870518697



Dabydeen’s Coolie Odyssey: another side of the Caribbean immigration experience

Coolie Mother

Jasmattie live in bruk –

Down hut big like Bata shoe box,

Beat clothes, weed yard, chop wood, feed fowl

For this body and that body and every blasted body,

Fetch water, all day fetch water like if the whole –

Whole slow-flowing Canje River God create

Just for she one own bucket.

Till she foot bottom crack and she hand cut up

And curse swarm from she mouth like red-ants

And she cough blood on the ground but mash it in:

Because Jasmattie heart hard, she mind set hard.


To hustle save she one-one slow penny,

Because one-one dutty make dam cross the Canje

And she son Harilall got to go to school in


Must wear clean starch pants, or they go laugh at he,

Strap leather on he foot, and he must read book,

Learn talk proper, take exam, go to England


Not turn out like he rum-sucker chamar dadee.


Coolie Son

(The Toilet Attendant Writes Home)

Taana boy, how you do?

How Shanti stay? And Sukhoo?

Mosquito still a-bite all-you?

Juncha dead fe true-true?

Mala bruk-foot set?

Food deh foh eat yet?


Englan nice, snow and dem ting,

A land dey say fit for a king,

Ice-apple plenty on de tree and bird a-sing –

Is de beginning of what dey call ‘The Spring’.


And I eating enough for all a-we

And reading book bad-bad.

But is what make Matam wife fall sick

And Sonnel cow suck dry wid tick?


Soon I go turn lawya or dacta,

But, just now passage money run out

So I tek lil wuk –

I is a Deputy Sanitary Inspecta,

Big-big office, boy! Tie round me neck!

Brand new uniform, one big bunch keys!

If Ma can see me now how she go please . . .


David Dabydeen

(from Coolie Odyssey)


These two poems are by Guyanese (British) novelist, poet, editor, anthologist, academic and critic David Dabydeen, who was recently Guyana’s Ambassador to China. They are both taken from his dramatic collection of poems Coolie Odyssey in which the poems are bound by the concept of the journey, the indentureship, the existence and the struggles of East Indians in Guyana.

Dabydeen is among the foremost scholars and creative writers in the UK where he is Professor at the University of Warwick and primarily celebrated as a major prize-winning novelist. He is a leading scholar on blacks in eighteenth century Britain and African slavery in the Caribbean.  Some of his most prominent novels such as The Harlot’s Progress and Johnson’s Dictionary have their background there. So does his best poetical work – Turner, inspired by English landscape painter JMW Turner and in particular by his seascape painting “Slave Ship”.

Coolie Odyssey is actually a companion volume to Dabydeen’s first book of poetry Slave Song that won the Commonwealth Prize and launched its author into the upper echelons of British literature. The poems in Slave Song are strung around themes of African slavery, the plantation experience, the colonial conditions as well as the post-emancipation conditions in British Guiana and post-colonial concerns including race, sexuality and colonialism. It is written in Creole, often attempting the speech and point of view of the black slave.

It is the success of this work, or rather experiences arising from it that drove Dabydeen to write Coolie Odyssey. It is another side of the Caribbean immigration experience, this time focusing indentureship, post-indentureship and the contemporary existence of East Indians in Guyana, with special reference to the Canje area of Berbice of which both Cyril and David Dabydeen are natives. In similar fashion to Slave Song, it is a post-colonial work, which also touches on themes of the other great wave of migration – that of Guyanese to the UK.

The two poems, extracted from their original collection, are often anthologised together because of the way they mirror, complement and balance each other, particularly with telling irony.  “Coolie Mother” is set in the peasant post-estate setting of working-class people in the Canje Creek area on the outskirts of New Amsterdam. It focuses the hard work and sacrifice of a woman who pushes her body, works herself to the point of injury and ill health, not only for plain survival, but to fulfil a dream. It is the standard dream of educating children so that they can pull the family out of poverty and hardship. But it is also a goal of pride in scholastic achievement.

The poem has a tone of bitterness, hostility and almost anger, dramatising the personality of the woman Jasmattie who is given to cursing that “swarm from she mouth like red-ants”. That seems a fitting bad-tempered reaction to a hostile and unpleasant environment as much as it is to her husband who is no help and a bad example – a “rum-sucker” and a “chamar”.

Yet she is determined to remain steadfast to her goal – to educate and liberate her son Harilall who will then liberate them all. Although it is a third-person omniscient narrative, one can hear Jasmattie’s thoughts, temperament and language throughout. Along with that is the emphasis of the sacrifices she makes that physically consumes her. She is then spurred on by the determination that Harilall “must” first get an education and then make a success of it. This must happen.

The poem’s dramatisation includes the use of the Guyanese proverb “one-one dutty build dam”.  The poet uses a variant of this idiom – “one-one dutty make dam cross the Canje”. It seems a variant influenced by geography, since it is a Berbician usage which refers to known objects in the experience of the people – in this case the Canje River (or Creek), which is a wide expanse of water, difficult to dam with a small handful of earth. The reality is, however, that it expresses a truth.

This poem is ironically placed alongside “Coolie Son” which is spoken from the first person experience of a boy who actually went to England with the intention of university and a profession.

He fails; is obviously not in university and probably never set foot there. But he lies to his family in Guyana, believing that they know nothing about England and would never find out about his situation. The poem itself is built on an irony that weighs what he tells them in his letter against what the poem tells the reader in its subtitle: (The Toilet Attendant Writes Home).

The ironies persist because he seems to have an interest in and concern for the welfare of friends and family back home, with his consistency of enquiries. Yet there is the lurking suspicion that he is only putting up a show and pretence because in the same breath he lies about himself.

Ironically, “Coolie Son” gives the other tragic side of “Coolie Mother”. The struggles and sacrifice on the one side and dreams unrealised on the other. The poem set in England tells the story of so many who go there seeking success and perhaps scholarship but end up like so many migrants in the positions of toilet attendants. The “son” might well be the product of the sacrifices of the “mother”, but one that lacks the capacity to be as hard working, resolute and determined as the woman and does in fact end up like the “chamar dadee”.


With Coolie Odyssey Dabydeen contributes to what has developed as Guyanese East Indian literature. This is a contemporary development in mainly fiction and poetry that strongly reflects different elements of the East Indian ethos in Guyana as interpreted by the literature of writers of Indian descent. It is multi-faceted and led mainly by writers resident overseas, but still having a substantial component involving local residents such as Rooplall Monar and Ryhaan Shah. In these poems Dabydeen dramatises the whole “odyssey” of Indians who came to Guyana, their contemporary experiences and extending it to the quest for betterment, ironically, through crossing the ocean again to the UK.








BOOK: Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture, written by Gaiutra Bahadur

August 20, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Jayeeta Sharma

in New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids

Online Publication Date:01 Jan 2015

Volume/Issue: Volume 89: Issue 3-4

Gaiutra Bahadur, Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. vii + 274 pp. (Cloth US$35.00)


  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (Oct. 30 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226034429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226034423


Gaiutra Bahadur brings us an elegantly written family history framed by larger tropes of indentured contracts, migratory livelihoods, female subjectivity, colonial violence, memory, and belonging. Ethnographic and archival reconstructions of her ancestor Sujaria’s journey from British India’s colonized spaces into Caribbean sugar plantations frame this ambitious narrative of indentured Middle Passages, and bring it down to her great-grand-daughter’s own passages between Guyana and the United States.

Naming and linguistic complexities structure Bahadur’s narrative. Her decision to employ the historically and racially loaded “coolie” is informed by a brief genealogy of the term’s appropriation as a vehicle of resistance, whether by the Guyanese poet Rajkumari Singh or in efforts by Mauritius scholar-activists Marina Carter and Khal Torabully to claim Coolitude as a counterpart of Negritude (pp. xx–xxi). Bahadur continues into a poignant, eloquent exposition of the Indo-Caribbean female coolie’s origins and ordeals in sections entitled “Embarking,” “Exploring,” and “Returning.” The first two seek to uncover Sujaria’s laboring and sexual journeys from her presumed natal home in Bhurahupur village and a possible widow’s existence at Brindavan to a 1903 voyage as a pregnant migrant from Calcutta on The Clyde, followed by laboring stints on Enmore and Rose Hill plantations and family life as a petty vendor, wife, and mother in Cumberland village. Here, Bahadur surmounts the gaps in recovering Sujaria’s life with retellings of Baby, Laungee, Umrai, Sukhri, and others whose presence in the official archive results from the violence that colonial overseers and officials inscribed on their bodies and reputations. Her empathetic reading against the grain seeks to balance and redress that historical record. The “odyssey” in the title is an intriguing window into an innovative addition to the recent historiography of indenture, and the book’s third section explores the indentured migrant’s “dream of return,” juxtaposing the postindenture stories of Mahraji and Rosaline who in 1955 landed in Calcutta facing a cruel travesty of their dream to return to India. It also explores Gauitra’s own sojourn seeking Sujaria’s roots in North India, and ends with an exploration of gendered mores among the descendants of slavery and indenture in present-day Guyana.

This book was written by a Guyanese-American journalist whose lack of a Ph.D. belies the impressive scope of her archival trawl over three continents. Her exhaustive mining of the Public Records Office and India Office Records are complemented by use of records from Caribbean and Scottish repositories, as well as participant-observer travels in India, a remarkable transnational sweep. Despite this scope, there is one somewhat limiting gap in Bahadur’s treatment of indenture. Her puzzling omission of several well-known works on indentured labor elsewhere in the British Empire prevents her from locating this personal and Indo-Guyanese story within larger histories of commodity chains and plantation capitalism, and their connections to global coolie migrations and diasporas. Larger comparative histories of imperial indenture, global capital, and the connections they bear to a variety of regional and personal histories are effectively silenced. In her elision of coolie labor and plantation scholarship about Ceylon, Malaya, Natal, Sumatra, and Assam, Bahadur effectively misses the point that the same transmitting districts and colonial mechanisms that sent indentured migrants such as Sujaria from colonial North India to sugar plantations in Guyana also sent her sisters in spirit into similar conditions elsewhere, even within India.

Bahadur’s exploration of the “dream of return” (pp. 163–77) might have benefited from a comparison of differing post-indenture contexts in two different receiving plantation zones and avoided the discordant note in her final chapter. After a passionate disquisition on the high incidence of domestic violence that makes victims of Guyanese women and oppressors of their men, Bahadur writes that second-diaspora migrations such as the ones in her own family have offered coolie women’s descendants better chances for redemption than their own homeland (and South Asia), even as she acknowledges that leaving a country cannot be the only way (p. 212). This seems to imply that those living in the Global North are the blessed ones who might rescue unfortunate sisters elsewhere, a lack of reflexivity about authorial subject position that reads oddly in this otherwise fine work. It is pertinent to recollect that Sujaria is but the latest entrant into a historical rescue mission where historians from Jamaica, Mauritius, India, and South Africa have already challenged erstwhile archival invisibilities to resurrect other coolie women, such as Lakshmi, Kunti, and Maharani. Sadly, many of those works are inaccessible to a wider audience when the inequities of marketing networks take publications from Kingston or Stanley out of print and therefore make them unavailable. One hopes that the reach of this book’s Chicago publisher, its co-publication in the United Kingdom and India, and its well-deserved critical success will not only cement Sujaria’s place as a historical subject but spark renewed interest in her historical peers.


BOOK REVIEW: Cyril Dabydeen

Gaiutra Bahadur, Coolie Woman: Odyssey of Indenture (USA: University of Chicago Press, 2014), pp. 274.

Reprint from South Asia Mail, An Independent Internet Weekly

Review by Cyril Dabydeen/UOttawa

In a riposte to an academic’s critique on the quality of scholarship in her book Coolie Woman, author Gaiutra Bahadur–a Guyanese-born US-based journalist-writer–stated that it is “very much a subaltern history, a history from below that strives to recover the voices of people who didn’t have the power to write themselves into history”; and, she emphasized: “I analyzed the reports on 77 indenture voyages from Calcutta to the Caribbean, mining them for the stories of the indentured but also grounding this qualitative data in quantitative analysis, generating statistics on the percentage of pregnant women, married couples and returnees aboard ship.” Let me say, immediately, that I admire Bahadur’s work; it is a book that reflects her prodigious research skills and energy to recreate and reconstruct the past, narratively, and indeed, with intellectual acumen. At best, Coolie Woman straddles memoir in the literary non-fiction genre exploring the origin and legacy of the life of her great grandmother, Sujaria, a “coolie” woman, who was brought to British Guiana around 1903 in almost mysterious circumstances to work in the sugar plantation; she was subsequently moved to the Rose Hall sugar plantation (Canje district) where I was born and lived up to my early manhood; and therein lies the immediacy for this reader because it’s also where I taught school for almost a decade, at Rose Hall–the behemoth sugar cane factory located obliquely across the school; I also interacted with sugar plantation workers on a daily basis; and, my own writing draws from this heritage. Ms Bahadur grew up in the Cumberland village, in Canje, but emigrated as a young girl with her family to New York. I’d met Ms Bahadur in Trinidad at the Bocas Literary Festival, where she introduced herself to me.Her search for ancestral links drives much of what we read in this retrospective volume; and Coolie Woman has garnered much praise (it was short listed for key literary awards). But odyssey: going back into one’s beginnings, or provenance, is not entirely new. US-based Denise Grollmus’s personal journey of Jewish discovery in Poland where three million Jews were murdered by the Nazis and discovering that her grandmother–a Jew–a fact kept hidden for almost 70 years, also came to mind. But perhaps the coolie indentured system is more compelling, for one like myself, a capitalist-cum-colonial nexus, as it was, that brought to the Caribbean three million African slaves and one million Indians as indentured servants–most of the latter to Guyana and Trinidad. Over the years I have interacted with key scholars who have written insightfully on this subject: like Professors Brinsley Samaroo, Clem Seecharran, Frank Birbalsingh, and briefly, with the late UK scholar Hugh Tinker (in 1988 at a York University Conference on indentureship), who famously labelled the coolie indenture system as “another form of slavery.” My own imaginative work focusses on this nefarious system, as has David Dabydeen’s (poems, stories, and novels, essays): about the tribulation our forbears experienced after coming through the dreadful kala pani (“dark water”) of the Indian Ocean, and enduring sugar plantation travail.

Bahadur’s book takes a special place due to her subaltern woman’s point of view; as she relates: “I relied on official archives but also sought to fill in the many gaps and silences in the archives–they can lead us to the texture of indentured women’s lives, but not to the texture of their thoughts–with alternative and personal sources….rather than from the perspectives of British colonial officials” (Letter, Stabroek News). Indeed, she journeyed back to the Caribbean, India, the UK and elsewhere more than to vicariously relive her great grandmother’s journey, and through painstaking research and serious reflection resulted her achievement in Coolie Woman. Yet, I bore in mind Sigmund Freud’s caveat about the biographer’s art’s “false colouring”–and of an author perhaps reading too much into events, like the Ramayana (Ram and Sita) trope and allegory and seeing the British plantocracy as Ravan. But this is a minor carp–for beyond anything else this book is soul-searching: about a great grandmother’s ordeal (Sujaria was four months pregnant on the ship when she crossed the kala pani); a woman with “eyes like cat’s eyes…and skin white like white people,” perhaps pointing to her Brahminic caste, added to her coming from the Indian state of Bihar before reaching Calcutta to begin her horrific near four-month sea journey on The Clyde.

Women chosen for indenture might have derived from a “complex mix of victimization and Vaishnavite devotion” (31), Bahadur tells us, and that those like Sujaria were initially ostracized; the recruiters often went to holy sites and found such women, as “family members took widows to pilgrimage sites and abandoned them there. At other times, widows found their own way there, as they fled mistreatment and sexual advances in their in-laws’ homes,” writes Bahadur (31).

Sujaria’s sugar plantation experiences encapsulate the indentured people’s struggles (particularly women’s), as angst that the author internalizes, calling it her “transformative journey” and her “narrative history” characterizing the egregious labour experience when “one shilling was the value of a human life,” as well as the psychic and social trauma that ensued in the British Guiana sugar plantations where there were 64 women to 100 men (the figure varied over the indenture period). The gender imbalance was fraught with sexual exploitation and oppression which Bahadur describes in poignant detail. This is no Rushdiean “imaginary homeland” retelling as Bahadur interweaves Vedas mythology juxtaposed with stereotypes that underpin the relations between Guyanese of African and Indian backgrounds during a large part of the Gladstone-coolie indenture (lasting from 1838 to 1917); slaver Sir John Gladstone was the father of British prime minster Sir William Gladstone.

Compelling situations associated with time and place are unearthed and reflected throughout this book, including angularities tied to rivalries and jealousies between former African slaves and Indian coolies: the dynamics are often worked out in the prevailing gender relationships and the sexual shenanigans and animosities–Bahadur argues–which are tied to violence between men and women (seen, for instance, in the evocative chapter, “Beautiful Woman without a Nose”); and, not surprisingly, sexual goings-on and power relationships between coolie women and white planters and their overseers in the context of the European stereotype of Indians’ “possessiveness and promiscuity” juxtaposed with the notion of the “chastity of Indian women”–demonstrate that women were kept in more than a symbolic bondage. In this context Bahadur narratively triangulates Sujaria’s story of survival: testament to an extraordinary spirit and will to live, as well as the great- grandmother’s practical intelligence and faith (largely Hinduism). The author herself is a devotee of Saraswati (deity of “knowledge and purity”), seen in her feminist drive.



August 1, 2019




Introducing Setu

Dear readers,

It’s my pleasure to present debut issue of Setu Bilingual. A Sanskrit word, Setu means a bridge, and that is exactly what we intend to do here at world headquarters of Setu in Pittsburgh. Setu, as the name indicates, is here to connect the extreme ends of the words, written and spoken across the globe. No doubt, this is a humble beginning, we have big dreams. There is a lot to do. And with your cooperation, we are going to make it big.

It is particularly exciting that the Setu editorial board consists of celebrated authors who need no introduction. I would like to thank all the members of the editorial board for their support to turn Setu into a reality. My heart is also full of gratitude to the contributing authors of the first issue.


Anurag Sharma
Setu, Pittsburgh.


Setu ……. ……………….. ……. सेतु

ISSN 2475-1359
* Bilingual monthly journal published from Pittsburgh, USA :: पिट्सबर्ग अमेरिका से प्रकाशित द्वैभाषिक मासिक *

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Poetry: Leonard Dabydeen


(villanelle poem)

Zindagi aur kuch bhi nahin, teri meri kahaani hai

(Life is nothing more but the story of you and me.)

This life is a story of you and me:

What’s in it that makes it so difficult

For us to sever bond of harmony.

In the beginning it wasn’t easy

How we dated each other as adult;

This life is a story of you and me.

Sometimes we talked about dreams endlessly

Of places, and then suddenly find fault

For us to sever bond of harmony.

Fantasies were beyond what we could see –

No turning back, only a somersault;

This life is a story of you and me.

When an empty dish would share our pity

We plaited our hopes, dreams not by default

For us to sever bond of harmony.

Oft times we toured the world, city by city

Not knowing we’d come to an abrupt halt

This life is a story of you and me

For us to sever bond of harmony.


(A Villanelle in Pentameter)

Try not to be asleep, yet stay awake

Pretence of the eyes plays tricks with the mind;

Without sleep, you may undermine your stake.

Sleep you must, always, before next day break;

A night’s rest from a rough day, hard to find:

Never pretend to sleep, yet stay awake.

After a hard day’s work, rest you must take,

Sleep your best remedy of any kind;

No matter how causal, know what’s at stake.

Sometimes you’ve got to burn mid-night oil late

To meet dead-line: you must stay on the grind!

Try not to be asleep, yet stay awake.

Don’t make procrastination your play mate,

It will result in havoc – strike you blind!!

Sleep without pretence, knowing what’s at stake.

A good night’s sleep is God’s blessings to take,

After a hard day’s work, best to unwind;

Try not to be asleep, yet stay awake:

Without sleep, you may undermine your stake.Sleep you must, always, before next day break;
A night’s rest from a rough day, hard to find:
Never pretend to sleep, yet stay awake.

After a hard day’s work, rest you must take,
Sleep your best remedy of any kind;
No matter how causal, know what’s at stake.

Sometimes you’ve got to burn mid-night oil late
To meet dead-line: you must stay on the grind!
Try not to be asleep, yet stay awake.

Don’t make procrastination your play mate,
It will result in havoc – strike you blind!!
Sleep without pretense, knowing what’s at stake.

A good night’s sleep is God’s blessings to take,
After a hard day’s work, best to unwind;
Try not to be asleep, yet stay awake:
Without sleep, you may undermine your stake.



Along come butterflies after May rain

Fluttering excitedly at the sun,

Glowing in such radiant hues again;

How wonderful it is to watch the fun.

Where flowers of rich bougainvillea

Bloom in the lush gardens of Trivago,

Beachcombers sip cocktails in grand gesture

Watching their children running to and fro.

There is much delight in this month of June

Full of frolic and joy with people around;

Jogging and walking, dancing out of tune

Enjoying Life’s comfort in their surround.

No matter troubles and tribulation

We’re on the move in all situation.

Just Facts

(inverted Fib)




with people

who bluntly extol

their bloated ignorance of facts.

Even when reality sets

in  variables

to white-wash

their lies




Stars of the Night

(a Fib)



go places

where no one

has gone to before

let this journey be triumphant

let us play beyond the myriad stars of the night.


Keep Moving



no more

for the sun

to climb the hills

rise with the shining light to reach the skies.

Setu, July 2019






August 1, 2019

Founder Editor: Nilavro Nill Shoovro   

Poetry Archive V-5 No.-5: AUGUST 2019:



POEMS by Leonard Dabydeen


From panic to pandemonium

Where Richter Scale measured impact

People screamed in delirium.

Californians cried in a hum

Packing, running with lives intact

From panic to pandemonium.

Earthquake roared like a rattled drum

Shattering buildings, all ransacked

People screamed in delirium.

Hurriedly people packed, fearsome

Of next tremor earthquake attract

From panic to pandemonium.

Some paused, hoping the end did come

When earthquake rattles made more tract

People screamed in delirium.

Californians live this hum-drum

Of an earthquake, yet on contact

From panic to pandemonium

People screamed in delirium.



Where children looking for food everyday

Hunger speaks louder to malnourishment

Their hope beyond expectation, they pray

Listening to their dire predicament.

Where Border guards reveal much hopelessness

Either in pretense, without much caring

About children in cages defenseless

This unbearable cry is perturbing.

Where children hallucinate a dream world

Without shape of what the future may bring

Their inhuman conditions are unfurled

Even for a blind eye to see their suffering.

Ask, Oh man, what has God wrought unto you

To suffer our children in this purview?



(a fib poem)



hear them

crying loud

voices echoing

caged children are starving for food.

Confined in abominable

space beyond freedom

to breathe air

their breath





Glowing dawn sunshine

heralds humming birds to chirp

with refreshing breeze.

Len 001

LEONARD DABYDEEN, Guyanese-Canadian poet and member of The Society of Classical Poets (USA), Life Member of MetVerse Muse (India); member of Muse India Journal; member of Muse-Pie Press (Shot Glass Journal and Fib Review), contributor to Gandhi Way Newsletter (UK), contributor to Pratilipi blog: My blog: Free-lance writer and book reviewer; author of Watching You, A Collection of Tetractys Poems (2012), and Searching For You, A Collection of Tetractys and Fibonacci Poems (2015).

An Afternoon Conversation / Poem by Linda Scanlan

July 16, 2019

via An Afternoon Conversation / Poem by Linda Scanlan

Sunita Paul, one poetic voice braided through philosophy “thought” and creativity “Women” – By: Agron Shele / Translated by: Irida Zusi

July 8, 2019

via Sunita Paul, one poetic voice braided through philosophy “thought” and creativity “Women” – By: Agron Shele / Translated by: Irida Zusi

BOOK: MISCELLANEOUS MUSE By Dr. H. Tulsi – REVIEW by Leonard Dabydeen

May 16, 2019

Dr Tulsi BC

Book: MISCELLANEOUS MUSE, A Collection of Poems by Dr. H. Tulsi

  • Self-Published
  • First Edition: October 2018
  • E-mail:
  • ISBN 81 – 901364-06
  • 126 pages


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Sir Francis Bacon

Book Review: Leonard Dabydeen

In The Society of Classical Poets Journal (2017), James Sale quotes in his Essay: “Poetry and the Muse Part 4” that “Art and Poetry have always been altering our ways of sensing and feeling – that is to say, altering the human body and the human mind…”

From earliest antiquity in literati, and by its own bed-rock in poetic sycophancy, poetry has embraced a structured versification or fixed formation analogous to human heart-beat. In this book, MISCELLANEOUS MUSE, Dr. H. Tulsi of the internationally acclaimed MetVerse Muse Journal, makes a finely knitted embroidery bouquet of 158 fixed form poems, set in the first 94 pages, to excite and delight the readers’ hearts. In the remainder 32 pages, Dr. Tulsi refreshes readers with responses, reviews and reviewletts of her 10th poetry collection, A Poesy of Posie on Three Themes. The back cover reveals a short profile to underscore her unequivocally distinguished literary career.

This book, MISCELLANEOUS MUSE by Dr. Tulsi, like all her previous books and treasured volumes of MetVerse Muse, is self-published with careful systematic and astoundingly excellent word-press distinction. That her literary career began at an early age to rich maturity of being an octogenarian, with rich prolific literary gem in classical versification, is amazingly mind-blowing. In almost all forms of structured verse and fleeting fecundity, to wit tanka verse, villanelle, pantoum, triolet, a Davidian, Burns’ Stanza sequence, Kyrielle, terza rima, an Ottava Rima sequence, a Rhyme Royal sequence, Spenserian stanza, a Rondel, a Rondeau Remembrancer, Quintet Stanza sequence, a Ballade, Envoi, Shakespearian sonnet and Petrarchan Sonnet, Dr. Tulsi is glowingly enthused in marinating the classical web with panache of lofty rhymes, rhythms, and intonation rapture.

This book, MISCELLANEOUS MUSE by Dr. Tulsi is chunked in four sections, as in Part 1, POEMS IN PRAISE OF PROSODIC POETRY with 25 poems; Part 2, NEW YEAR POEMS with 25 poems; and Part Three, OTHER GENERAL POEMS with 58 poems; Part 4 captures a REVIEW AND REVIEWLETTS of Dr. Tulsi’s TENTH POETRY COLLECTION: “A POESY OF POSIE ON THREE THEMES”. Each section (1-3) interlocks with the other in terms of style, form and nascent assonance and rhetoric. One significant feature theme in the construct of the fixed form poems is Dr. Tulsi’s vehement uprooting of free verse or nuanced modernism style. In the beginning of Part 1, POEMS IN PRAISE OF PROSODIC POETRY, the poem, GOLDEN GATE (p 6):

                      Metverse use

                     Will be of use,

   Poesy’s poetic tone and form to recreate,

And ope once more, for classical verse, the golden gate.


is a quatrain that emphatically brings praise and affirmation of the classical verse. Almost in tone with Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It is what Mr. P.K. Majumder, Editor, Bridge-in-Making, India, considers a salvage of metric poetry in a spirit of sacrifice. (

And in this poem, RIGHTFUL RULER (p 6) Dr. Tulsi echoes that,


Metverse Muse has traced the outlawed King –

     Back to power whom it seeks to bring.

   He flying returns, bearing upon his back

     The rightful ruler. Let us clear his track.

         The royal carpet waits to be unrolled,

Leading to his erstwhile throne of gold.


As if Dr. Tulsi is in a halo of gallantry and distinct prosodic articulation, saying, “In my stars I am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness…” (Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, 1602: Malvalio).

Then Dr. Tulsi espouses in this A Villanelle in Pentameter (p 8): LET ‘STRUCTURED VERSE’ HAVE HIS SHARE (end stanza – quatrain):

             Of your inert, innate skill he’s aware:

               Your latent talent he will activate.

   While giving gifts to those for whom you care,

Give also ‘Structured Verse the Great’ his share.


an expression with sweet refrain, reminding the writer of Dylan Thomas, ‘Do not go gentle into that goodnight.’ The villanelle as a fixed structured versification employs line repetition, sautéed with an ABA rhyme scheme.

But any raison d’ê·tre for fixed verse or classic verse poetry over free verse or what is shinnied as modernism in poetry, is pale for consideration until you take a read of this A Pantoum, titled CREAM VERSUS SCUM (p 9, stanzas 1, 6 and 7):

Stanza 1

When milk is boiled well, there floats on top

   The Cream’s layer, like a floating foil.

Although removed, it recurs without a stop

   Every time the milk is made to boil.


Stanza 6

Structured Poetry’s most delicious cream

Is born from the womb of its own rich milk.

   Whose hope of survival is merely a dream

   Is the mod Free Verse in borrowed silk!


Stanza 7

Born from the womb of its own rich milk

   Is Formal Verse, and so lives for ever.

Is the mod Free Verse in borrowed silk

Destined to live long? The answer is ‘Never!’


Here we make a studied observation of A Pantoum, being a Malay type poem with three or more stanzas in series of quatrains; the rhyme scheme is linked with repeated lines in a certain pattern (the last line in Stanza 6 is repeated in the third line in Stanza 7. What is more significant here to note is the evocative boldness of words in the poem to assert Dr. Tulsi’s sober and conservative condescension of Classic verse. Free verse: NEVER!!

One other structured poem in Section 1 of this book, MISCELLANEOUS MUSE by Dr.Tulsi, which I would like to share with readers, is the last poem (p 18): LET’S NOT REST UPON OUR OARS (Petrarchan Sonnet),


(Petrarchan Sonnet)

At last, with steady steps, Metverse Muse

Has safely reached its Golden Jubilee’s peak!

Although this target often seemed too bleak,

Together, to this milestone, we could cruise.

For this achievement, MM owe its dues

To Poet-Members all who did seek

Unitedly, to overthrow the sneak

‘Free Verse’, which pranced in Poesy’s stolen shoes.


With all its wheels now lubricated well,

Its leading role, ‘Classical Verse’ should play

And, in time, Vers libre’s doom should spell.

So, let’s not rest upon our oars, or lay

Aside our arms, until we toll its knell.

With this objective, let us wend our way.

This poem underscores the unequivocal trumpet call for Classic Verse to lead the march for poetry in this new millennium. And Dr. Tulsi’s glowing approbation is beyond any aggrandizement that ‘With this objective, let us wend our way.’ In an octave and sestet stanza, this popular Petrarchan Sonnet takes a prosodic lead in rhyme and rhythm for a delightful poetry gourmet. It is the featured poem in METVERSE MUSE, Nos. 51st to 53rd Triple Issue (August 2018) FRONT COVER. No small wonder to appreciate Dr. Tulsi for being the Founder-Leader of the World Renaissance for Classical Poetry.

A visit to Section 2: NEW YEAR POEMS

There are twenty-five poems in this section burrowed in the coming and celebration of NEW YEAR. The central themes in fixed structured verse range from peace, love, harmony for mankind, respect for Mother Earth and the environment, celebrations of joy and comfort and happiness for the Old Year and New Year. Dr. Tulsi has engaged delightfully in enriching readers to appreciate the essence of rhymes and rhythms in quatrains, sextains, couplet stanzas, quintet stanzas, hexameter stanzas, even an Englyn and a Spenserian stanza. This is absolutely an arm-chair recline to enjoy what the NEW YEAR heralds for mankind.

Take a read (p 24): NEW YEAR GREETINGS (Quintet Stanzas):

Stanza 1

               Since New Year’s drawing near,

               Something we should do,

               Not only for near and dear

               But world’s cit’zens too.

Resolves we should pursue, until Results accrue.


Stanza 4

               LOVE alone can unlock

               from souls, Selflessness;

             LOVE alone can ably block

               ‘Hatred’s hellishness,

And beg PEACE to bless us with Health and Happiness.


Dr. Tulsi sees our world a better place as NEW YEAR heralds, sharing LOVE, Selfishness, PEACE, Health and Happiness. Great profundity !!!

Albert Einstein once said, Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”

Here is what Dr.Tulsi says of SUCCESS in this quatrain (p 27):

Towards Success, in all the New Years,

     We can perhaps pave our way

If we, unfounded doubts and fears,

         Upon our attics stack away.


Absolutely, if we can overcome our doubts and fears, we certainly can gain success and become someone of value.



This section of over 100 poems covers a broad kaleidoscope of topics to include variations in people’s lifestyles, TITBITS, the way they live and their usual day-to-day habits and behaviours, of environmental circumstances, of birds and bees and thoughts and ideas on relevant idiomatic phrases and anything in between. Dr. Tulsi has indeed knitted a complex miscellaneous variation of poems to include forms such as Ballad stanzas, Pentameter Quatrains, Trimeter Triplets, Pentameter Quintet, Hexameter Sextain, Spenserian stanza Sequence, Rondelet, Hexameter couplets, Ottava Rima, Terza Rima, Villanelle in Hexameter, Shakespearian sonnet, Ballade, Envoi, Petrarchan sonnet, Burns stanzas, Roundelay and Rhymed Quatrain. Inclusive in all these forms of poems are prevailing rhythms and rhymes that would defy the reader to grasp in any defining moment. Line repetitions are intricately balanced in the appropriate poetry forms to inform readers of the ebullience in the works of Dr. Tulsi.

In the sense that the scope and variety of miscellaneous muse are so indefatigable, it is prudent to look at random picks from this section. Take a read, TITBITS – (BALLAD STANZAS), (p 30):

Stanza 1

The meals I eat all alone,

Tasteless seem to me:

The meals I eat in company,

Seem to me so tasty!

Being in company or alone has complex meaning, even for a meal. Insightful observation by Dr. Tulsi.


Stanza 4

‘Slow and steady wins the race’:

No goals are scored by speed.

‘Good’ and ‘Quick’ seldom meet:

Rhythm is what we need.

Thoughts expressed here exemplify human nature. Caution even to advise someone to take time and hurry up.



Stanza 1

Begone you nasty, nagging Fly!

By worrying like a wooing guy,

To try my patience, do not try!

       Though diabetic,

   No candied lollipop am I,

         For you to lick!

Interesting stanza form named after Scotland’s National Poet Robert Burns. Sensuous imagery of the fly nagging a diabetic person. Sweet temptation.

And so often, Dr. Tulsi would burst into emotional flow of thoughts for members of MM who passed away – expressing eulogy-like veil:


Stanzas 1, 2, 3.

We salute you, O Baron Haber,

Whose term on earth was full of labour!

You earned the break, we all agree:

May now your slumber blissful be.


Numerous were your avocations,

And onerous, like your occupations!

For rest, His having heard your plea,

May now your slumber blissful be.


You lost your life as Labour’s ‘levy’!

At long last, of all your heavy

Burdens, being fully free,

May now your slumber blissful be.


The KYRIELLE is a French form poetry in quatrain, with repeating lines as refrain and an emotional rhyme scheme effect.

Other eulogy-like fixed form poems have crested these pages to demonstrate homage by Dr. Tulsi for MM members – TO ‘KANNAN’, LET ME HOMAGE PAY– A KYRIELLE; TO LATE DR. I.H. RIZVI (Burns’ Stanza Sequence) …

Balladry or Ballad Poems lend a musical au revoir note of joy and symbolism in any collection of poems , naming stalwarts such as John Keats, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Ezra Pound, Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Federico Garcia Lorca or Majeed Amjad in a bundle. Certainly in metric verse, the name of Dr. Tulsi should not go unnoticed. Find her in this book, MISCELLANEOUS MUSE with her enjoyable ballads (pp 78-94). A must for reading and your library.

Dr. H. Tulsi is an astounding, enigmatic, and amazingly ebullient octogenarian of highest literary caliber from Visakhapatnam, India. She is the author of eleven self-published books of poetry, written in English, in structured versification or fixed form muse: Old Wine in New Bottles (1993), Resurrection (1993), Sonnet Century (1996), Ballads and Ballades (1996), A Nosegay of New Year Poems (1998), Lyrical Lays (2000), Symphony Weds Symmetry (2007), A Chest of Chuckles (2011), Tears and Smiles (2012), A Posy of Poesy on Three Themes (2015) and Miscellaneous Muse (2018).








May 9, 2019





Gandhi 150th Anniversary Conference
Global Co-operation House (Brahma Kumari’s HQ)
65-69 Pounds Lane, Willesden, London NW10 2HH
Provisionally 27th or 28th September 2019
The Conference will include the postponed 2018 GF Peace Award
to Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, and a representative of Mines & Communities as well as other topics Further details in next issue.


Human Rights and Interfaith Harmony
Gandhi Foundation Multifaith Celebration 2019
Jane Sill

The annual commemoration of Gandhi Ji’s assassination took place this year on 9th February as part of Interfaith Harmony Week and also to mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the 150th anniversary of Gandhi Ji’s birth year. The evening was organised by Saara Majid on behalf of the Gandhi Foundation who also performed with Sacred Sounds. The setting was the beautiful Unitarian Church in Golders Green. The church has been lovingly maintained with many original features, such as a beautiful painted pastoral scene depicting a deer park which had been created especially for the space, as had the organ, nestled neatly in an alcove beside. This formed the backdrop to a rich offering of prayers, thoughts and music from many traditions which was enjoyed by a large audience of all ages and backgrounds.


The evening began with the familiar chanting of Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo, by Reverend Nagase from the London Peace Pagoda who was accompanied by Sister Marutasan, the nun in charge of Milton Keynes’ Peace Pagoda.
There followed an address by Rev Feargus O’Connor, Minister in charge of Golders Green Unitarian Church, who spoke on ‘The Golden Rule, Compassion and World Religions’.  Drawing on The Charter for Compassion Rev O’Connor described how the principle of compassion is the Golden Rule that lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, ‘calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves’. As the Charter states, “Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect”. This ethic inspired spiritual teachers from all faiths, such as Confucius, Buddha, Rabbi Hillel, St Francis of Assisi, the Sikh gurus and many others. Rev O’Connor then went on to quote from a selection, including Gandhi Ji: “Our innermost prayer should be that a Hindu should be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian. I broaden my Hinduism by loving other religions than my own … All religions are true”. This sentiment is echoed by HH Dalai Lama: “My fundamental belief is that all religious traditions have the same potential to make better human beings, good human beings, sensible human beings, compassionate human beings”. Rev O’Connor concluded by hoping that each of us “pledge ourselves to … build that ideal human commonwealth which alone can bring about the happiness and wellbeing of all”.

gANDHI 104

Left – Rev Feargus O’Connor (Golders Green Unitarians), 3rd L – Mark Hoda (Chair, Gandhi Foundation), Far
Right – Saara Majid with members of Sacred Sounds


There followed a series of beautiful musical and poetical offerings, including a
Hebrew  Prayer,  ‘Ma  Na’vu,  al  heharim’;  a  Medieval  Christian  Hymn,
‘Balulalow’; a Bosnian Sufi Blessing, ‘Salla Aleijke’, and a selection of poems by Dennis Evans, a member of the Church and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. They offered deceptively light hearted, closely observed vignettes of everyday life:

Bubbles for Peace

There were Reverends and Rockers

Housewives and children.

There were old friends and new friends, Politicians, policemen.
There were Christians and Muslims, Communists and Buddhists.
And banners, such banners, Banners for peace.
There were dancers and drummers,

And children in pushchairs.

There were priests and our poets, And grannies in wheelchairs.
There were students and stilt walkers, And a brave paraplegic.
And a many with his toy gun, Lit by his laughter,
Blowing bubbles, such bubbles. Bubbles for Peace .
London Peace March, 15 February 2003.
After a short tea break which gave time for people to mix and chat, there was an address on the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights which celebrated its 70th  anniversary in 2018.  This was concluded by an appeal on behalf of Medical Aid for Palestinians towards which all proceeds from the evening were donated. There followed a beautiful 13th  century Iranian song,
‘Bani Adam or Sons of Adam’ by Saadi which described all our lives as limbs of the same body. Mark Hoda, Chair of the Gandhi Foundation, spoke on Gandhi Ji’s emphasis on duty rather than ‘rights’.  This was echoed by Saara Majid  who  reflected  on  how  each  of  us  can  help  make  the  standard  of universal  human  rights  a  reality  in  society,  by  quoting  from  Eleanor Roosevelt:  “Where,  after  all,  do  universal  human  rights  begin?  In  small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world.    Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works.  Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination.    Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.  Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

Beautiful renditions of Bikhodee, ‘Without Self’ by Rumi, Gandhi Ji’s Salt March song, ‘Ragupati raghava …’ and ‘Bread & Roses’, a protest song from the American Women’s Movement (1912), brought to an end an evening celebrating the richness and diversity of our common humanity.

Jane Sill is a member of the Gandhi Foundation’s executive committee.

Other Events_
Wed 15 May         International Conscientious Objector’s Day at Tavistock Square, London at 12 noon.
Sat 8 June            Annual  Multifaith  Pilgrimage  for  Peace,  London  organised  by
Westminster Interfaith. Tel: 020 7931 6028.
Sat 22 June          34th Annual Celebration of the London Peace Pagoda, Battersea
Park 2pm. Tel: 020 7228 9620
Tues 6 Aug           Hiroshima Day – Tavistock Square 12 noon.
Thurs 9 Aug          Nagasaki Day – Peace Walk from Westminster Cathedral to the London Peace Pagoda followed by Lantern Lighting Ceremony at sunset.
Wed 2 Oct            Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary at Tavistock Square at 11am organised by the Indian High Commission and the India League.
Sun 20 Oct           Inspiring Indian Women – Dance for a Cause
A not for profit organisation based in London is putting on a d a n c e  p e r f o r m a n c e  i n  a s s o c i a t i o n  w i t h  t h e  n o t a b l e choreographer  Sandeep  Saporrkar  at  Mahatma  Gandhi  Hall, YMCA, Warren Street, London, 6-10pm, £15.


News ———————————————————————————————————————     

It   is   four   years   since   the   Saudi-led   coalition   launched   its   first airstrikes in Yemen. During these four years 60,000 have been people killed  by  the  conflict,  and  many  more  have  died  as  a  result  of  the humanitarian catastrophe that has ensued.     Attacks have hit schools, hospitals, weddings, funerals, food supplies and a bus full of school children. The coalition is deploying UK made aircraft in combat missions, dropping UK-made bombs and firing UK-made missiles. The UK government has enabled the war with more than £5 billion of arms sales, military support and training.
Yet the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on 26 March 2019 that ending the UK’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE would be “morally bankrupt”.        (Campaign Against the Arms Trade)
On 30 January 2019 members of the Hindu Mahasabha recreated the murder of Mohandas Gandhi in Aligarh during which they shouted ‘Long Live  Nathuram  Godse’  (Gandhi’s  assassin)  and  declared  that  they  would repeat this enactment every year.
A few years ago the President of Congress Rahul Gandhi, son of Sonia and the late Rajiv Gandhi, stated that supporters of RSS (ideologically linked to the Mahasabha) had killed Gandhi which led to a case filed against Rahul with the demand that he apologise.
The leading force of Hindu nationalism today is the BJP, the party of Government led by Narendra Modi who praises Gandhi from time to time but is a strong promoter of Hindu nationalism (Hindutva) which often leads to discrimination against Muslims.
(Why Recreating Gandhi Murder ? by Ram Puniyani on

Spain’s Supreme Court has upheld a ban on the torture of bulls during  the  Toro  de  la  Vega  festival.     In  2016  the  regional  government outlawed the stabbing to death of bulls with darts and spears at the festival but the local council then appealed to the Supreme Court which has however rejected the appeal.  (PETA UK)
!         The  Royal  College  of  Physicians  decided  in  March  after  a  poll  of members  that they  would take a neutral  stance  on  the  issue  of  assisted dying, changing from opposition to it.   The voting was 31.6% supportive of assisted dying (an increase since 2014), 43.4% against. The Royal College of Nursing already held a neutral position.
A majority of the British public support a change in the law to allow assistance to die.   Every 8 days someone travels from Britain to Switzerland for an assisted death but this is not an option for most people as it costs around £10,000.  Legalisation of assisted dying, an expression of compassion
and  freedom  of  choice,  is  gradually  spreading  in  parts  of  Europe,  USA, Canada and Australia.       (Dignity in Dying)
In Scotland in the 18 months to September 2018 almost 500,00 emergency food parcels were given out by food banks.   In areas where Universal Credit had been introduced food bank use increased by 52%. Scottish ministers have promised to bring in a new income supplement for those on the lowest incomes but not till 2022.           (Sabine Goodwin, Independent Food Aid Network)
According to scientists a single piece of food waste, like a banana skin, can be made to produce sufficient energy to charge a mobile phone twice over. Waste food put in an Anaerobic Digestion facility can be converted by micro- organisms to give off methane gas which can be used to generate electricity. (The Herald 25/4/19)
A recent UK parliamentary report on the clothing industry reveals that the manufacture of clothing produces more pollution than international aviation and shipping combined.    Yet fashion clothes sold cheaply are often hardly worn before being discarded.    In the UK 11 million items of clothing are thrown away weekly.
It takes around 2,000 gallons of water to make just one single pair of jeans ! This is equivalent to the amount of water the average person drinks over a period of seven years. World clothing production doubled between 2000 and
Delhi is notorious for its air pollution but there is hope for the future. Under the Paris Agreement India committed to 40% renewable energy on their grid by 2030.    But four years later they look as if they can reach 60% renewable by 2027 due to the rapid expansion of solar energy production.
(The Herald 7/4/19)
With climate change emerging as the greatest challenge of this era, energy transition becomes the core area of concern for all developed and developing nations.  ‘India has set a target of 100 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar energy capacity by 2022. India has also announced plans to cancel 14GW coal plants. India is now committed to sell only electric cars by 2030. India is heading towards a leadership role in global climate change governance at G20 and COP23 Forums.‘          (Gandhi Marg Vol 40 No 1 & 2, 2018)
China is changing – in unexpected ways.  Five years ago, on March 4, 2014, China made a serious national decision. The 3,000 delegates to the National People’s Congress voted to reassert greater national control over development through conscious plans to reduce poverty, increase social programs and benefits,  combat  extreme  pollution  and  build  a  sustainable  environment.

This was a break from China’s 35-year policy of stressing economic growth ahead of the environment and of health and social benefits for the working class.  An article titled “Four years after declaring war on pollution, China is winning” ran in the March 12, 2018, New York Times: “To reach these targets, China prohibited new coal-fired power plants in the country’s most polluted regions, including the Beijing area. Existing plants were told to reduce their emissions. If they didn’t, coal was replaced with natural gas. Large cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, restricted the number of cars on the road. The country also reduced its iron- and steel-making capacity and shut down coal mines.”    ……….. Other decisions in the war on pollution included the dramatic decision to stop or delay work on over 150 planned or under-construction coal plants.     (Extracted from article by Sara Flounders ‘Planning Can Save the Planet: China Chooses Renewables’ in Workers World and republished in Transcend Media Service 29/419.)
In spite of its many imperfections the UK has been placed 15th (out of 156 countries) by the United Nations in its World Happiness Report.  The top countries are all small north European – Finland (first), Denmark, Norway, Iceland,  The  Netherlands,  Switzerland,  Sweden,  with  New  Zealand  and Canada coming 8th and 9th.  The lowest ranking were South Sudan, Central African Republic, Afghanistan. High taxation to provide good social services seems to be a factor in high satisfaction.
The Life Style Movement
Founded in 1972, the Life Style Movement exists to encourage and enable people to live in a way that is less damaging to the planet on which we all depend. The founder, Horace Dammers, emphasised the connection between the affluence of some and the poverty of others and coined the slogan, “Live simply so all may simply live”. The Movement publishes a newsletter, Living Green, three times a year containing articles and information about simple living, household tips, recipes etc and activities for children.
All supporters of the Gandhi Foundation are invited to the LSM annual conference which takes place from Friday 16th to Sunday 18th August at Minster Abbey, Church Street, Minster, Nr Ramsgate, Kent CT12 4HF. There is easy travel by train from London. The theme this year is ‘Co-operatives – working together for change’. Full board is provided for the weekend and the cost is £120 for a single room or
£110 per person sharing a twin room.
For further information or to book a place, please contact Graham Davey, tel 0117
909 3491 or

Our Future World

by Leonard Dabydeen

“In the end all men have to die. He who is born cannot escape death.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi – Speech at Prayer Meeting, New Delhi, January 15, 1948.

They who live by their own chagrin, acquire

moth that spiral in their mind without  peace;

fetch hate, animosity as desire

never to see our world a happy place.


Often times by foolish wit denigrate

our hopes and dreams  far beyond squint of eye,

they criticize and also peculate

day by day they usher grandiose lie.


Step by step we massage Gandhian thoughts

and follow in faith a path righteous

ahimsa our kindled lamp against krauts

satyagraha our stand prestigious.
Walking in Mahatma’s footpath joyous

we build our future world so enormous.
Leonard Dabydeen is a Guyanese-Canadian Licensed Paralegal by the Law Society of Ontario (Retired) and a Commissioner of Oaths and Affidavits for Ontario. He is also a published author, freelance writer, poet and book reviewer in English literature.  His books include Watching You, A Collection of Tetractys Poems, xlibris Publishers (2012) and Searching For You, A Collection of Tetractys and Fibonacci Poems, xlibris Publishers (2015).



Can We Imagine Peace for Palestine ?
Richard Falk

While  waiting  without  positive  expectations  for  the  Trump  ‘deal  of  the century’ the Palestinian ordeal unfolds day by day. Many Israelis would like us to believe that the Palestinian struggle to achieve self-determination has been  defeated,  and  that  it  is  time  to  admit  that  Israel  is  the  victor  and Palestine the loser. Recent events paint a different picture. Every Friday since the end of March 2018 the Great March of Return has confronted Israel at the Gaza  fence.  Israel  has  responded  with  lethal  force  killing  more  than  250
Palestinians and injuring over 18,000, using grossly excessive force to deal with almost completely nonviolent demonstrations. The world allows these weekly atrocities to go without any concerted adverse reaction and the UN is awkwardly silent.
It would seem that there is a feeling in international circles that nothing much can be done to bring about a peaceful and just solution at this stage. Such a conclusion partially explains the various recent moves in the Arab world toward an acceptance of Israel as a legitimate state, which has included diplomatic normalization. Beyond these developments, Israel has joined with Saudi Arabia and the United States in a war mongering escalation of an unwarranted confrontation with Iran. In addition, Israel and Egypt are collaborating on security issues at the border and in the Sinai, as well as in developing off shore oil and gas projects.
All and all, this is a moment for stocktaking with respect to this conflict that has gone on for more than a century, and assessing what would be the best way forward.
A fundamental point is how peace might be made in a manner that realizes the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to achieve self-determination in  a  territorial  space  that  was  for  centuries  their  own  homeland.  The prevailing assumption had been that a solution would be achieved by geopolitically framed negotiations between Israel and governmental representatives of the Palestinian people. The framing was entrusted to the United States, which itself insinuated a fatal flaw into the diplomatic process if the goal was to achieve a peaceful compromise that was fair to both sides. How could this happen if the stronger party had the unconditional backing of the geopolitical intermediary and the weaker party was not even clearly the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people ?
Additionally, this already flawed framework was further abused by subordinating the so-called peace process to Zionist expansionist goals, expressed  by  annexing  Jerusalem,  denying  refugee  rights  of  return,  and


expanding unlawful settlements in occupied Palestine. Such a geopolitical framework, associated with the Oslo Framework of Principles, as adopted in
1993, has by now been widely discredited but not before Israel had used the past 25 years to achieve their expansionist goals, making the establishment of an independent Palestinian state a political  impossibility,  and  putting  the Palestinians in a far weaker position than when the Oslo approach was adopted.
Against this background, the perverse failure of the top down approach to a sustainable outcome has led to a public attitude of defeatism when it comes to achieving  a  peaceful  compromise.  The  residual  top  down  option  is  the coercive imposition of ‘peace’ by declaring an Israeli victory and a Palestinian defeat. In other words, if diplomacy fails, the winner/loser calculus of war is all that is left over.
Such thinking, although prevalent in elite circles, overlooks the historical agency of people, both those resisting injustice and those mobilized throughout the world in solidarity. These are the bottom-up kinds of political dynamics that changed the history of the last century. It was national mass movements that challenged successfully, although at heavy human costs, the unjust structures of colonialism and South African apartheid, and eventually prevailed despite military inferiority and geopolitical resistance. In other words, people had the superior historical agency despite their inferior capabilities on the battlefield and diplomatically. This populist potency is a reality with a potential to subvert the established order and for this reason is treated as irrelevant by mainstream thinking and policy planners.
It is precisely on the basis of this deconstruction of power and change that hope for a brighter Palestinian future lies. The strength of the Palestinian national  movement  is  on  the  level  of  people  as  fortified  by  the  moral consensus that Israeli apartheid colonialism is wrong, indeed a crime against humanity according to international criminal law [see Article 7 of the Rome Statute governing the International Criminal Court and the International Apartheid Convention of 1973 on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid] It is this bottom up process of struggle, spearheaded by Palestinian resistance and given leverage by global solidarity initiatives such as the BDS [Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions] Campaign as it gains momentum and heightens pressure. Historical outcomes are never certain, but the flow of history has been against this Israeli/Zionist combination of colonial appropriation of Palestine and the apartheid structures relied upon to maintain the subjugation of the Palestinian people.
Against this background, some general propositions can be put forward.


The Two-State Solution Is Dead
For several years, at least since the de facto abandonment of the Oslo diplomacy in 2014, the two-state solution has not been seen as a viable political option. Yet it continues to be affirmed by many governments and at the UN. This is not because there is any belief that it might finally happen, but because  every other outcome seemed either  impossible  or  too  horrible  to contemplate. In other words, many leading political figures and opinion leaders  held  onto  the  two-state  approach  as  an  alternative  to  zero.  This reflects an impoverishment of the political and moral imagination, only capable of conceiving a solution to conflict as deriving from top down approaches; bottom up approaches are not even considered.
It seems better to admit the defeat of two-state diplomacy and take account of the existing situation confronting Palestinians and Israelis so as to consider alternatives. To come to this point, it might be helpful to explain why the two- state solution has become so irrelevant. Above all, it seems evident that the Likud leadership of Israel never wanted an independent Palestinian state established. Netanyahu pledged during  the  2014  presidential  campaign  in Israel that a Palestinian state would never come into existence as long as he was Israel’s leader.
Perhaps, more fundamental, the settler movement has passed a point of no return. There are more than 600,000 Israeli settlers living in more than 130 settlements spread all over the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Settler leaders believe that the settlements have so changed the map of Israel to exclude any possibility of an independent Palestine, and their leaders now envisage the settler population growing to 2,000,000 to drive this point home.
True, the Palestinian Authority has long seemed ready to accept even a territorially abridged state, ceding sovereignty over the settlement blocs near the border, but insisting on its capital being in Jerusalem. A broad spectrum of Israeli political leaders agrees that the future of Jerusalem is non- negotiable, and that the city will remain forever unified under sole Israeli sovereignty and administration. Under these conditions it can be safely concluded that it is no longer plausible to consider seriously the two-state path to peace between the two peoples.
The Arab Accommodation Is Tenuous
Israel feels little pressure to seek a political compromise given present conditions. With Trump in the White House and Arab governments scrambling toward normalization and accommodation, Israeli leaders and public opinion seem ill-disposed to make concessions for the sake of peace. As such keeping the two-state non-solution alive as a Zombie solution is a way


to proceed with Israel’s continuing efforts to expand the settlements while implementing its coercive version of a one-state solution.
There  are  strong  reasons  to  feel  that  this  Israeli  confidence  that  the Palestinian demand for rights can be indefinitely ignored is premature and is likely to be undermined by events in the near future. For one thing, the Arab moves toward normalization are unstable as is the entire region. If there is a renewal  of  Arab  uprisings,  in  the  spirit  of  2011,  it  is  quite  possible  that support for Palestinian self-determination would surge to the top of the regional political agenda, stronger form than ever before. The Arab people, as distinct from the governments, continue to feel deep bonds of solidarity with their Palestinian brothers and sisters.
Beyond this, should Trump presidency be defeated in 2020, there is likely to be an Israeli reevaluation of their interests. Such a prospect is heightened by signs that Jewish unconditional support for Israel is dramatically weakening, including in the United States. Furthermore, the global solidarity movement supportive of the Palestinian national movement is spreading and growing. It is becoming more militant, engaging moderate global public opinion, and has the symbolic benefit of strong backing in South Africa, which sees the fight for Palestinian rights as analogous to their own anti-apartheid campaign.
What Next ?

Two conclusions emerge from this analysis: first, a continued reliance on the two-state diplomacy within a framework that relies on the United States as an intermediary or peace broker is now irrelevant and discredited. It is at this point only a distraction. Secondly, despite Israel’s recent gains in acceptance within the Middle East and its one-sided support in Washington, the Palestinian national movement persists, and under certain conditions, will mount a threat to Israel’s future.
In light of these conclusions, what is best to be done ?   It would seem that only a democratic and secular single state could uphold self-determination for both peoples, holding out a promise of sustainable peace. It would need to be carefully envisioned and promoted with international safeguards along the path toward realization. It does not seem a practical possibility at present, but putting it forward as the only outcome that can be regarded as just avoids despair and holds out hopes for a humane peace when the time is right. Such an outcome would require a major modification of Israeli goals.
In such a binational situation, the newly created single state could offer homelands to Jews and Palestinians, while finding a name for the new state that is congenial to both peoples. Maybe this will never happen, but it the most  sustainable  vision  of  a  peaceful  future  that  responds  to  decades  of

diplomatic failure, massive Palestinian suffering and abuse, and recognizes the moral authority and political potency of national resistance and global solidarity, a legislative victory by that unacknowledged Parliament of Humanity.
Richard Falk is a member of the TRANSCEND Network, an international relations scholar, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, author, co-author or editor of 40 books, and a speaker and activist on world affairs. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)  appointed  Falk  to  a  six-year  term  as  a   United  Nations  Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the  Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.”   Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies, and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. His most recent book is Achieving Human Rights (2009).
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 Feb 2019.


Faiths  Together  for  the  Future:  The  Story  of  the  World  Congress  of Faiths  and  the  growing  global  Interfaith  Movement  to  heal  the  World, Marcus Braybrooke, Braybrooke Press 2019

Faiths uniting in public solidarity after a terrorist attack; engagement in dialogue and study for mutual understanding; holding a joint Holocaust Memorial event; proclaiming ‘faiths united for world peace’; faiths cooperating to tackle community issues especially racial and religious discrimination, and hate incidents; taking part in Commonwealth Day events and other civic functions – such are among the many features of the Inter- Faith Movement in Britain today. Especially but not exclusively in major big multi-ethnic urban areas, inter-faith councils, faith centres and concerned individuals pursue cooperation between different faiths for the common good. Mid-20th century saw the Ecumenical Movement of Christian Churches deemed “the great new fact of our time”; the same could certainly be said now of the Inter-Faith Movement.

Initiator, exemplar and inspiration over many decades, the World Congress of Faiths (WCF) has played a very significant role, one today often unrecognised. Rev  Marcus  Braybrooke’s  latest  book  is  essential  reading  both  for  those

already active in inter-faith, and for anyone wanting to understand its motivations and achievements to date. A retired Anglican priest with some fifty years devoted to inter-faith work, current WCF Joint-President and prolific author on religions and inter-faith, Braybrooke gives a comprehensive fact-packed survey, illumined by many uplifting quotes from faith leaders, of the British and wider global experience. (Despite its name, WCF is a British body with global contacts, not a world federation.) Yet he frankly records the suspicion and misunderstanding of Christian leaders in early decades.

Colonial officials’ interest in non-Christian faiths they encountered (especially in India), Queen Victoria’s 1858 declaration of ‘respect for all religions’, and
1924 London Religions of Empire Conference, confirm imperial roots of inter- faith and latter event as impulse for foundation of WCF in 1936, notably through the zeal of Sir Francis Younghusband (1873-1942). A parallel major inspiration were the 1893 and 1933 Chicago World Parliaments of Religions. Braybrooke rightly stresses Younghusband’s key role in WCF and his lasting vision of cooperation of major faiths to build global fellowship and peace. Establishment figure – British Resident in Kashmir in 1906 and Knight Commander of the Star of India in 1917 – and mystic deeply affected by faith encounters  in  India  and  Tibet,  his  personal  Anglicanism  stressed  Jesus’
‘intense  humanity’.  Supremely,  he  urged  religion  as  sure  foundation  for human unity and concord.

The 1936 World Congress in London, notable for lofty statements by Russian Christian philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev and eminent Hindu Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, launched WCF work to this day. Braybrooke fully chronicles its   achievements   and   problems,   noting   slow   advance   in   Churches   as pre-1960s Christian thinking on other religions was dominated by Karl Barth and Hendrik Kraemer theology of ‘discontinuity’ between the Gospel and world religions. In 1960s Britain began becoming the multi-ethnic, multi- cultural society it is now, and attitudes changed. (I recall holding Christian- Muslim dialogues in an academic context, and study of world faiths being a university discipline.) Dean Edward Carpenter of Westminster and George Appleton, Archbishop of Jerusalem, became high-profile WCF activists for inter-faith understanding, with wide and lasting influence.

9/11 and terrorist attacks in UK gave fresh urgency to inter-faith endeavour with new emphasis on promoting toleration, Christian-Muslim cooperation and opposing Islamophobia. In recent decades WCF conferences have explored religion and peace, faith and morals, science and spirituality, and much  more;  WCF’s  multi-dimensional  approach  –  lectures,  study  events, visits to worship venues, sharing faith understandings, inter-faith worship, pilgrimages – has inspired many local bodies to follow. Inter-Faith Network now undertakes much of this; eight Parliaments of World Religions from Chicago 1993 to Toronto 2018 are another fount of inspiration. A mine of event ideas, this book details significant new bodies promoting inter-faith.

My only caveat is that I wish it included new ideas for the future of inter-faith work in a globalised yet fractured world – but perhaps that will be Braybrooke’s next book !

In my experience only good – from spiritual enrichment to community harmony  –  comes  from  inter-faith  encounter,  sharing  and  cooperation. Inter-faith has attained civic and national recognition – but needs more support from devotees of all faiths to sustain momentum. At a time when dark populist forces incite division and intolerance, its role and its vision of “inter-faith harmony in the service of humanity” (p.250) are more urgent than ever.

It is the duty of the religions to struggle for the brotherhood of man, for the unity of mankind and for the dignity of all human beings as children of God … it will not come about by intellectual or doctrinal agreement, but out of real spiritual experience of brotherhood and charity.     Nicholas Berdyaev WCF 1936

The  author  quotes  (p.249)  Evelyn  Underhill’s  Mysticism:  The  gold  from which this diverse coinage (which mystics use) is made is always the same precious metal: always the same Beatific Vision of Goodness, Truth and Beauty,  which  is  one,  adding:  This  vision  carries  with  it  a  sense  of  the oneness of all beings and a deep love for them.

Rev Brian Cooper, Churches & Inter-Faith Secretary, Uniting for Peace

The Great March of Democracy: Seven Decades of India’s Elections
Ed by S Y Quraishi, Vintage 2019, ISBN 9780670092284, e-book available.
This long awaited book offers a unique insight into India’s electoral system,  through  the  eyes  of  those  involved  in  the  process  as  well  as politicians,  academics,  journalists,  social  activists,  industrialists,  television and film personalities. The diversity of the approach, reflects the diversity of India itself. Edited by S Y Quraishi who joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1971 before becoming the 17th chief election commissioner of India, each essay gives a glimpse of the huge challenges involved in organising elections in the largest democracy in the world with more voters than the 54 countries in Europe combined and the entire Commonwealth.   The Election Commission of India was set up on 25th  January 1950, the day before India became a republic but the history of demand for universal franchise in India is rooted in the Constitution of India Bill (1895) in which it was declared that every citizen living within India had the right ‘to take part in the affairs of the country  and  to  be  admitted  to  public  office’.  The  Nehru  Report  of  1928

reaffirmed this position. The challenges posed post-Partition when it was estimated   84%   of   the   population   was
illiterate with a similar percentage in poverty, were huge.    The essays address many of these, including the question of corruption, non-registration of voters, not to mention the

immense challenges of holding electionsGANDHI 105

in remote areas to enable even minuscule numbers of voters to caste their ballot, as well as the questions surrounding the newly adopted electronic counting system. But the efforts of the Election Commission in aiming to register 100% of the   population   as   well   as   ensuring transparency and accuracy are matched by the importance and value placed upon this universal franchise by ordinary people which lay at the heart of the fight for independence.    Voting numbers far exceed proportionately those in Western countries.
While by no means perfect a system, the introduction recalls how it took until
1928 in the UK before women were granted the vote on the same basis as men, while women in France and Italy had to wait until 1944 and 1945 respectively. India had already held many elections before Switzerland gave women the vote in 1971 and the aboriginal population of Australia in 1967.  In terms of size and magnitude, maybe the rest of the world has a good deal to learn from the Indian example. The authors include Bhikhu Parekh and Mark Tully, well know to GF.
Jane Sill

Gandhi: The Years that Changed the World 1914-1948,  Ramachandra
Guha,  Allen Lane 2018, pp1129

!         This is the second volume of Guha’s impressive biography of Gandhi, the first and shorter volume (only 673 pages ! ) having been published 5 years earlier covered Gandhi’s life up till his return to his home country after about
20 years in South Africa.
!         But why another Gandhi biography when so many exist already ?    A reason given is that Guha (a well known writer on modern India) has used letters and other documents especially from the Nehru Memorial Museum



and Library in New Delhi and the Sabarmati Ashram  Archives  in  Ahmedabad  which  have not been used by earlier biographers.    While these do not change significantly the story of Gandhi’s life and his times they do add ‘colour’ for the readers who will in all probability have read at least Gandhi 106one previous biography.
With a book of this length the author has plenty of space to deal with the major issues that Gandhi was concerned about – wealth and poverty, caste discrimination especially untouchability, colonialism, violence and nonviole nce ,   the   e ffe cts   of   e conomic development, forms of governance, religion in a multicultural context, the position of women in society; and brahmacharya (celibacy) which was of particular concern to
Gandhi even if not to most of his admirers.
A major theme of the book is of course Gandhi’s role in the Indian independence movement but I shall select some sub-themes for this review.
Struggles with caste

The issue of caste is still a live one in today’s India.  On one aspect, that of untouchability, Gandhi’s position was clear from the beginning – he was totally opposed to it.  Even as a child he did not like the idea that some people were regarded as unclean and not fit to be treated in the same way as those of higher caste.   Throughout the last quarter century of his life he campaigned tirelessly against it, travelling the length and breadth of the country with some success in weakening its hold.  In spite of this he confused the issue by initially accepting caste in principle as a stabilising factor in society and advocated a purified version of it, one in which people of different castes (Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaisya, Sudra) were to be regarded as of equal worth. It was this that led to a long dispute with B R Ambedkar who was born an untouchable but who managed to receive higher education in the UK and USA.  Ambedkar believed that caste was inextricably embedded in Hinduism and those treated as untouchable, preferably called Dalits, had to break this connection.  Gandhi however believed that the higher caste Hindus needed to change  their  long-held  beliefs  and  embrace  the  Dalits  (he  called  them Harijans or Children of God) as equals.
Ambedkar  and  Gandhi  clashed  particularly  over  separate  electorates for Dalits in the new constitution for assemblies – Gandhi was opposed as it would perpetuate the division. The matter came to a head in 1932 when Gandhi went on a fast over the issue. The outcome was that separate electorates for Dalits were dropped, however the long-standing separate electorates for Muslims continued.  The constitution of independent India, to


which Ambedkar as a lawyer contributed substantially, outlawed untouchability but even today persistent prejudice against Dalits continues to perpetuate discrimination.
Gandhi’s position on caste changed over the years – by the early 1930s he considered inter-caste marriage acceptable – until he came to the view that caste had to go completely.
Women and Gandhi

Gandhi had many women friends and colleagues and some of these always feature in biographies such as Sarojini Naidu, the poet and political activist, who became Governor of United Provinces in independent India, and Mirabehn or Madeleine Slade who was drawn to Gandhi by reading Romain Rolland’s early biography of him and became a very close colleague. But there were many others and Guha features quite a few.
Muriel Lester is one. Rather than choosing to go to university she established along with her sister Doris a community centre in the East End of London in 1915.    Guha here is mistaken in two matters – what became Kingsley Hall was not a Quaker establishment and Muriel never became a Quaker.   Her family were Baptists but perhaps it is best to think of her as a non-denominational Christian.  The sisters’ brother Kingsley died in 1914, not in the Great War but of appendicitis.   Kingsley Hall is named in memory of their  brother.  The  present  building  dates  from  1928.  Some  years  earlier Muriel had become aware of Gandhi and finding a great affinity she visited his ashram in 1926 and thereafter kept in close touch. Kingsley Hall was therefore the place that Gandhi chose to stay when he came to London in
1931.    In addition to her work at the Hall Muriel became a travelling ambassador for peace for the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.
One woman who only started to feature in Gandhi biographies relatively recently is unique in her relationship with Gandhi, namely Saraladevi Chaudhurani.     Rajmohan  Gandhi  described  his  grandfather’s  relationship with Saraladevi in his 2007 book Gandhi: The Man, His people and The Empire although, to my knowledge, Martin Green’s 1993 Gandhi: Voice of a New Age Revolution was the first to do so.  Saraladevi was a member of the famous Bengali family of Tagores. Her mother was a sister of Rabindranath Tagore.   She herself inherited some of the talents of the Tagores and sang beautifully and composed, as well as being a writer of talent and a fine public speaker  and  an  active  reformer.     Slightly  younger  than  Gandhi  she  was already married, to a political activist, when Gandhi began to get to know her in 1919.  He was strongly attracted to her and she often travelled with him on his  campaigning.  The  attraction  was  mutual  and  Gandhi  contemplated  a
‘spiritual marriage’ with Sarala, but opposition came from some colleagues and family including his principal secretary Mahadev Desai and Devadas his youngest son.  Gandhi decided also that there were dangers to continuing the special relationship and by the end of 1920 it had come to an end.  Saraladevi


is not mentioned in Gandhi’s autobiography, nor did she mention their relationship in her autobiography.
Gandhi played a significant role in liberating women in India – he opposed child marriage, advocated equal education, opposed purdah (women not allowed to be seen by non-family men) and recommended that widows should be able to remarry.    His salt satyagraha of 1930 also drew many women into the public sphere.    However he was opposed to birth control other than abstinence, a reflection of his entirely negative view of sexual relationships.
Muslim-Hindu relations
Gandhi   knew   many   Muslims   throughout   his   life   and   his   initial employers in South Africa were Muslim. When he returned to India he considered it essential that good Hindu-Muslim relations be fostered.  He saw an opportunity at the end of the Great War when Muslims were enraged by the  treatment  by  the  Allied  governments  of  the  Turkish  Sultan,  who  was Caliph of Islam.  A campaign in India was established and Gandhi considered this worth actively supporting.   A Khilafat Committee was set up in 1919 led by the brothers Mohammad and Shaukat Ali but the Government clamped down and they were imprisoned in 1921. Three years later the new Turkish Government of Ataturk abolished the Caliphate so the Muslim-Hindu alliance in the Khilafat campaign had little long-term effect.
The Indian National Congress from its foundation was an inclusive organisation but in 1906 a Muslim League was also established.  Mohammed Ali Jinnah was a member of the INC and did not join the Muslim League until
1913. However over the years many in the Muslim community came to believe that they as a minority would always be second to the Hindus in influence in an independent India.   Thus a drifting apart of the two communities grew until by the Second World War the idea of a separate country for Muslims had considerable support. According to Guha, the poet Muhammad Iqbal, whom Jinnah greatly admired, was a significant influence on the politician in persuading him that a separate country should be the aim. The momentum eventually  became  unstoppable  with  the  tragic  outcome  of  communal violence.   Gandhi viewed the partition of India as a personal failure, nor did he attend the independence celebrations.  Nevertheless it was at this terrible time that Gandhi rose to his greatest height.   First in Calcutta and then in Delhi he fasted to risk of his life and this brought the madness to a halt.  His assassination by Hindus was because he was perceived by extremists as favouring the Muslim community.
Gandhi’s influence

In the Epilogue the author considers Gandhi’s longer term influence on
India and the wider world.   India today would not have pleased Gandhi.   A

trend away from his ideas began early with the new Government headed by Nehru putting economic emphasis on development of the towns rather than the villages where most people lived.   Since then there has been a growing middle class who have benefitted from economic development while huge numbers still live in extreme poverty.  In recent years there has been a growth in religious intolerance accompanying the BJP as the most popular political party while the Congress Party has lost support in part through widespread corruption.   There is still much gender discrimination, Dalit discrimination and Adivasi (rural tribes) exploitation. At the same time India has very advanced science and technology and – not to be welcomed – growing numbers of super-rich individuals.
But Guha also describes the many positive features of Indian life today to which Gandhi made significant contributions. He refers too to his influence on the independence movements of African countries and that of the African- Americans (as they are at present called) which long pre-date Martin Luther King.   The concept of satyagraha has permeated most countries in the West and inspired reform movements in Europe and beyond.  The greatest scientist of the 20th century, Albert Einstein, regarded Gandhi as the person we have most to learn from.   Guha ends by drawing attention to one of the greatest problems facing 21st century humanity – the need for an economic system that is sustainable – Gandhi’s was intuitively so.
One disappointment of this very informative book is the absence of a critique of national defence, of the Indian state and of the great majority of the world’s states.  Gandhi’s belief in the power of nonviolence did not stop at the level of national defence.  Guha does not mention the fact that India is a nuclear armed state and is one of the world’s leading importers of lethal weapons – surely a major failure in Gandhian terms. Of course it is not surprising because most of the leaders of Congress believed in a conventional polity with defence equated with armed forces. Apart from the morality of possessing weapons of mass destruction this is an enormous waste of resources in a country with millions of poor people.
Gandhi’s way was different, even in the face of Nazism or Japanese aggression.   Guha quotes Gandhi: “if ever there could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany, to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified”.    He omits the next sentence: “But I do not believe in any war.” (Harijan 26/11/1938)
It  is  perhaps  significant  that  Abdul  Ghaffar  Khan  receives  relatively little space in this large biography compared  with  Gandhi’s  other  leading colleagues as the Pathan was the staunchest believer in nonviolence.  Gandhi knew that he had not won over the politicians who formed the first Indian government to nonviolence and it seems that today’s politicians have moved even further away from what should be his most important legacy.

George Paxton



Annual Gandhi Foundation Lecture 2019

To mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mohandas K Gandhi, his grandson, Gopal Gandhi, will deliver the Gandhi Foundation’s
2019  Annual  Lecture  entitled  ‘Atonement  in
Politics: Perspectives from Mahatma Gandhi’.
Gopalkrishna Devdas Gandhi is a retired IAS officer and diplomat, who was the 22nd Governor of West Bengal serving from 2004 to
2009. As a former IAS officer he served as Secretary to the President of India and as High Commissioner to South Africa and Sri Lanka, among other administrative and diplomatic posts.  He is also an author of books of fiction and nonfiction.
The lecture will be introduced and chaired by the Gandhi Foundation’s President, Lord Bhikhu Parekh.
Gopal Gandhi has supplied the following introduction to his lecture:
The Emperor Ashoka ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from c.
268 to 232 BCE.  He would have been forgotten in the realms of history and the scrolls of monarchs but for an act of atonement – public and widely disseminated through ‘edicts’ carved on stone.    This self-chastisement was over a war of conquest he had waged on a kingdom – Kalinga – that neighboured  his  own,  resulting  in  the  death,  by  his  own  estimation,  of
100,000 and the dislocation of 150,000.  Ashoka’s remorse – anusochana as he called it in the language he used – was influenced by the teachings of Gautama,  the  Buddha,  specifically,  that  which  related  to  the  concept  of dukkha (sorrow) and of ahimsa (nonviolence).
War has continued to dominate human affairs, conflict to mark political relations between countries and within societies.  But every now and then, an Ashokan moment arises when leaders, strong enough morally to do so, speak in terms of their error.   Gandhi and the self-owning of guilt are inextricably mixed together, with his term ‘Himalayan blunder’ having acquired the status of an aphorism.
This lecture will deal with the arcs of owning and acknowledging such mistakes, in other words, of atonement through history and with the scope of honest self-appraisal, self-criticism and self-correction in our fraught and fractious times.
Please register for the lecture here if possible: mahatma-gandhi-tickets-57940800494?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

Guests are requested to make a donation at to offset expenses.


The Gandhi Foundation

GANDHI 108The Foundation exists to spread knowledge and understanding of the life and work of Mohandas K Gandhi (1869-1948). Our most important aim is to demonstrate the continuing relevance of his insights and actions for all of us.

Founder President: Richard Attenborough
President: Bhikhu Parekh
Patrons: Godric Bader, Navnit Dholakia, Denis Halliday, Eirwen Harbottle, Martin Polden, Diana Schumacher, Mark Tully

Members of Executive Committee: Twisha Chandra,  Shaheen
Choudhury-Westcombe, Graham Davey, Omar Hayat, Mark Hoda (Chair), Trevor Lewis, George Paxton, Prem Prakash, William Rhind, John Rowley, Jane Sill
You can become a Friend of the Gandhi Foundation for a minimum subscription of
£20, or a concession rate of £10, or be a Life Friend for a donation of £200. As a
Friend you will receive the quarterly newsletter The Gandhi Way and notices of events organised by the Foundation. Subscriptions to the Editor (address at bottom).
General inquiries to
Registered office: Kingsley Hall, Powis Road, Bromley-By-Bow, London E3 3HJ Charity Number 292629

The Gandhi Way
Articles, book reviews and letters of a specifically or broadly Gandhian nature will gladly be received by the Editor. Maximum length 2000 words.

George Paxton, 2/1, 87 Barrington Drive, Glasgow G4 9ES Tel: 0141 339 6917; email: The deadline for the next issue is the end of July 2019

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May 8, 2019

TRY NOT TO BE ASLEEP (A Villanelle pentameter)

by Leonard Dabydeen


Try not to be asleep, yet stay awake

Pretense of the eyes plays tricks with the mind;

Without sleep, you may undermine your stake.


Sleep you must, always, before next day break;

A night’s rest from a rough day, hard to find:

Never pretend to sleep, yet stay awake.


After a hard day’s work, rest you must take,

Sleep your best remedy of any kind;

No matter how causal, know what’s at stake.


Sometimes you’ve got to burn mid-night oil late

To meet dead-line: you must stay on the grind!

Try not to be asleep, yet stay awake.


Don’t make procrastination your play mate,

It will result in havoc – strike you blind!!

Sleep without pretense, knowing what’s at stake.


A good night’s sleep is God’s blessings to take,

After a hard day’s work, best to unwind;

Try not to be asleep, yet stay awake:

Without sleep, you may undermine your stake.