Monday, May 31, 2010


Following is the copy of my letter to all the partners of State Inter Agency Group - West Bengal:

Dear Friends,

Best regards from Puthumai !

This is my last mail as the State Coordinator of the State Inter Agency Group - West Bengal ! The State IAG-WB will have a full time coordinator shortly. Whereas I will be leaving as the Coordinator, I shall continue to support and strengthen the State IAG-WB to the best of my ability from wherever I am.

I am also glad to inform you that in June 2010, I wish to spend the time on setting up a state-wide SMS based geographically sensitive Early Warning System. I hope this will benefit you and the community. The system will be fully functional from 01 July 2010. Anyone can register to receive Early Warning updates. The very idea of this is to give real time geographically sensitive Early Warning (e.g. in case of a possible embankment breach, send alert to people of the area who are under threat, and heads of INGOs/NGOs working in the area only.). You are most welcome to register yourself by sending in a message "START ALERT" from your phone to 09547997119. Kindly encourage your staff and community members to register to this. I would like to keep this as an absolutely free service to reach to the last person in the village. Your suggestions are most welcome. I will be available for your contacts on my personal E-mail address: The information collected for generating these alerts will be, from the subscribers to this system, community, IMD, Government and other relevant websites and media.

Coming to this departure of mine, I remember the circumstances which brought me to Kolkata and to take this challenging task. I remember with sorrow the hundreds and thousands of people who bore the brunt of Cyclone Aila. I sincerely thank Fr. I.P.Sarto, then Director of ABCD, the Convener organization of the State IAG-WB and Ms. Parnasri Roy Chowdhury for placing their confidence in me, and calling me in to shoulder this responsibility. Their guidance and support throughout the year will never be forgotten. I thank Fr. Reginald Fernandes, who as Director of Seva Kendra and later as State IAG-WB Convener since September, arranged my stay for the entire year, and guided me with enormous freedom to work and succeed.

I must thank the Honorable Joint Secretary, Disaster Management Department, Govt. of West Bengal, Sri Debabrata Pal, IAS, who has helped me with guidance and suggestions at various occasions. I thank the officials of the Disaster Management Department, and specially Mr. Himadri Maitra with whom I worked very closely. I also thank Mr. Subhasish Debnath of UNDP who has been my heart and voice with the government, and has always chipped in with such useful information that helped me achieve beyond my capabilities.

I must thank Ms. Lori Calvo, Mr. S.N. Dave, Mr. Nasir Ateeq, and Ms. Moumita Dastidar of UNICEF. It is they who helped me strengthen my technical skills, and with financial support and guidance at every step. Thanks to the entire UNICEF family of Unicef Kolkata Field Office.

I thank all the partners across the State. If at all I have achieved anything, it is because of you. All that I am, all that I am capable of, and all that I have come to be is because of your constant support, love, assistance and guidance. It would certainly be unfair if I miss any of your names in listing. But, I think, I must list at least persons who have made a great impression in the past 12 months: Anurag, Shubhro and Soma of WWF, Campoo and Logun of World Vision, Banku B Sarkar, Bhaswar, and Bipul of Oxfam, Nirmal of Rama Krishna Mission, M.A.Wohab of SHIS, Dr. Aniruddha Dey and Sutapa Ghosh of PRISM, Sanjay Rozario, Pallab and Bapi of Caritas India, Subhrokhali, Dr. Garai and Dr. Vijayakumar of Lutheran World Service, Taraknath of CARE India, Kasturi, Rama and Rajshree of CRS, Praful Rao of Save the Hills, Prof. Chandan Majumdar and Niladri of Jadavpur University, Ms. Gargi Mitra of CII, Fr. Soosaiappan of Palli Unnayan Samity, Dr. Subhomoy Pal and Arup of CINI, Chittaranjan Mondal and Surajit Neogi of Action Aid, Raja, Noel, Soumick, Lucas Gomes and Shubhra of ABCD, Ajanta Dey of NEWS, Ajitha Menon of ANI and Amitava of PTI, Samsur Alam of BMCDM, Anshuman of DRCSC, Shibani of Indienhilfe, Sebastian and Mamata Sahu of Concern Worldwide, Aloke Ghosh of CASA, Sandeep of Childline Foundation, Niraj of Children International, Vikas, Vikrant and Parimita of Sphere India, Sr. Sabrina Edwards of MWDC, Dr. Prabir Chatterjee (independent consultant), Tanaji Sen and Praveen Kumar of RedR India, Sujay Chowdhury of Goal India, Dr. Ujjwal Kr. Sengupta of IMA, Nazrul Islam of INSS, Shibesh Das of RCHSS, Saradindhu Banerjee of PRIA, Anshuman of Sabuj Sangha, Abinash, Jatin and Manabendranath of Save the Children, Mrs. Bani of SMS, Bidyut Debnath of SPADE, Fr. Valentine Rai of Anuggyalaya, Darjeeling, Raja, Bhaswati and Jayanta Das (all three of them worked as my collegues for a short term), and you, my friend, have made a positive difference in my life.

If ever you need my support in strengthening any of your systems or building the capacity of your staff or partners, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you once again from the bottom of my heart! Lots of Love and Best Wishes to all of you !

Puthumai A. Nazarene

Sunday, May 30, 2010


It is already four days since the tragic “train murder” took place near Jhargram, a town 140 kilometers west of Kolkata. The Maoists (the anti-government, supposedly pro-poor) extremist groups damaged a railway line, that led to the derailment of a passenger train, While five of its bogies were lying on the tracks next to it, a goods train rammed into it, and the death toll has gone up to 146 so far! Nothing can justify shedding of innocent blood. “Threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

These same groups were promoted over the last two decades by various political parties, in order to threaten their political opponents. Today, the Maoists have grown into a monster! Yes, they cannot be called Maoists, just Monsters. They have killed over 1,000 security personnel in the last three years, and a few thousand civilians through bombings, murder and kidnaps. The home minister of the country has asked the defence ministry to support him with drones to track the movement of the Naxals in the secluded dark jungles of the region, and the defence ministry says, it cannot share its resources because it cannot be seen to be waging war against its own citizens!

My dear Defence Minister, we are talking of citizen’s right to life, and not the right of murderers to live.

Law and governments are meant to protect the people of the country, and not to let loose Frankensteins like this. Today, the jungles of at least five states are under the control of the Maoists, and the State (provincial) governments are finding it difficult to control their power. The anomaly of governance has led to blame games, and no one wants to take responsibility in the States. They are growing into a group like the LTTE that ruled parts of Sri Lanka until a year ago. Interestingly, most states haven’t even declared these groups as unlawful! I am afraid it will take an assassination of one of the top leaders of the country, for the governments to wake up and ban these institutions that work for hatred-building across the country.

We need the rule of law to be enforced strictly, immediately.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Stepping Ahead

May 31, 2010 will be officially my last day in office as the State Coordinator of State Inter Agency Group - West Bengal. Immediately after that, may be for few more days, I shall hang around in Kolkata to complete the reports, close some files and accounts, and hope to be freed by 5 June 2010. And then comes the next step. A Big STEP. I need to see where I will be going to. Will it suit me? And do I suit the place? My experiences in Kolkata in the past one year have made me tougher by any measure, to take on challenges, and come out victorious. I wish to be challenged by bigger tasks. People are really wondering why I do not want to continue as the State IAG Coordinator. Even if I ask for around 40,000 rupees as salary, they would be interested in giving. Then why? The answer is simple.
This place has taken me away from reality. From people. From the poor. I have learned of the bigger things in life. But I wish to ensure that the bigger things are merged with the simple lives of the people. Or else, the bigger things will remain just a theory.

For those who are wondering what I would be doing.... my first step will be in the line of starting an SMS based geographically conditioned Early Warning System in the State of West Bengal ! The mobiles have been plenty in the villages, and yet this has not been sufficiently used to send out alerts and early warnings. This is what I wish to do first. Then... ? May be setting up a business partnership with an European friend and an American friend (Mary Taylor.... you fit in here!) for export of materials produced by poor women of the villages so that these women can get some livelihood out of it, and the consumers in Europe and the U.S. can pay less! Hugely ambitious, yet doable. Let us do it!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Action in Inaction, Inaction in Action

How do you remain untouched by the stress of the world? Someone who has come from England was discussing with me the other day. She is stressed, bored and at times, not finding joy in life. It is all a lot of action, and activities. I was reminded of a sloka I read in Bhagawad Gita years ago. Chapter 4, verse 18 speaks of how a person who achieves inaction in action, and action in inaction is intelligent among all beings, and is transcendentally situated among all as perfect performer of all actions. My translation may not be the best. But it means the same. It is important to learn to find the inactive part of one self when in action, and to be in action, even when one is seen to be inactive. This sort of maintaining one's self balances the self, internally and externally. Balance of action is perfect always! As Plato would call it, take the middle path.

The Road Ahead

It is once again decision time. Yes, I must take decision. I was repeatedly asked to continue as the State Coordinator of State Inter Agency Group (IAG). This is the body that coordinates the activities of international, national and local non-profit organizations who work on emergency preparedness and response within the State. And I am the first State Coordinator appointed by the body. Though it existed since the year 2000, it was hardly known to people, until I sat on the saddle. Of course I was enormously supported by the UNICEF, who gave me great support in helping me achieve higher results by ensuring quality action from my side. Soon everyone wanted a pound of flesh in it. In an year's time, State IAG had been a common name among the non-profit organizations.

But for me? It took me away from people. I was talking to invisible organizations even when I was speaking to persons. That is the problem at heart. I cannot be separated from people. I must return. Return to be with people. To work for them. To ensure that everyone lives in peace, love, happiness and have the capacity to bounce back when calamities crumble their lives and livelihoods. It is time to act. Time to decide. Should I serve God and his people, or religion and structures? Lead kindly Light amidst the encircling gloom... Lead Thou me on...

Seventh Wonder or Seventeenth Wonder?

The last week had been unexpectedly busy. I had not expected a hectic week, as I had only hoped to complete the account of the State Inter Agency Group, (IAG) finish few other paper works, plan for an inter State exposure visit, and slowly begin to handover things. But, the meeting of the State IAG of which I am the State Coordinator since 26 May 2009, changed the whole thing. I was asked to organize a special commemorative program on 25 May 2010 as that date will be the first anniversary of Cyclone Aila that killed 139 persons, and left over 500,000 people homeless, besides affecting over six million people. In the meeting it was also decided that there will be no decision taken on my successor until the Executive Committee meeting on 24 May. Now, all this is putting me in trouble. It would mean, I will be burning mid-night oil throughout the month.

Meanwhile, someone suggested that the State IAG should start a campaign in the state supporting the claim for the Sunderbans to be declared as one of the Wonders of the World. I always had problem with numbers. Why only seven wonders? Why not seventeen? The second problem with this whole thing is taking place in the backdrop of continues strikes in Darjeeling hills affecting hundreds of thousands, including children. May be, the strikes in West Bengal should be a world wonder! Oh, the Maoists (extreme left wing party people) are killing every day some innocent people, if they do not get some cops to kill ! This must be the nastiest thing on earth! The roads in Kolkata are certainly some sort of a wonder! There are over 30 manholes in a distance of 600 meters from my office to the next road cross. And each of these manholes are covered with an iron plate, and they all pop above the the road, making driving on the road really bumpy and painful. Actually why do they need so many holes? I have never figured it out. This could be another wonder. I am sure, my friends from U.S. and Europe would agree the drivers of Kolkata are the biggest wonder. They swirl, turn, twist in a blink of an eye and take you through unimaginably long and hard traffic that it certainly takes a miracle each time you are in a car or bus to reach safe. Long live wonders of the world.... Vote for more options.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Under Down South

On 30 April, I rushed to Chennai by an evening flight, and took a mid-night bus to Pondicherry (Puducherry), and met my sister and brother-in-law who had arrived there for a family celebration. The events were all over by noon. But, I had not slept the whole night. And then we all left for Madurai, reaching the city in down South at 8.30 p.m. After a sumptuous meal, and lots of fun, I fell as sleep by 11.00 at night. Sunday was not a resting day, as I had to visit other family members, and the families of my nieces. It was also interesting to see the new shop of my nephews who are struggling to erect it with whatever means they have. After the evening mass, and grand dinner, I left for Chennai, and other places in Tamilnadu, and reached back in Kolkata on 5 May 2010. Lots of work await me....