STUDENT COLLECTIVES AS RELIEF MEDIATION TO THE PERILS OF NATURAL DISASTERS

‘The year is 2020. The tree in front of my house is bent on crashing upon the family car. It’s raining cats and dogs. Suddenly, there’s a blackout and there’s water seeping in from a broken window pane. The wind too isn’t very keen on slowing down either and seems to be turning stronger by the minute. My phone battery is on the verge of giving up. Much to my dismay; currently I am a resident of a 200 year old house, with no electricity and rain water for company. Built during the British era in Kolkata, this house with water leaks, steep wooden staircases and strong forces of wind is not exactly very pleasant at the moment. But my experiences at this moment cannot be read in isolation. They are marked by our present.’ Nayanika Kongar writes about the role student’ collectives can play in trying to mitigate the after effects of disasters.

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Artists’ Interpretation of the Great Divide and its aftermath -A Report

Kolkata Centre for Creativity (KCC), in collaboration with the Kolkata Partition Museum (KPM) Trust organized the webinar ‘Remembering the Partition in the shadow of 1947: Artists’ Interpretation of the Great Divide and its aftermath’ on 17th August, 2020 on the occasion of the Partition Remembrance Day. Arna Dirghangi reports on the discussions around the cultural and artistic significance of the Partition and its observation through different artistic lenses.

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Oxfam “didn’t want white faces to save refugees” in 1971: An Interview with Julian Francis

March 1971. Pakistani army launches “Operation Searchlight” to carry out a genocide of Bengalis from the erstwhile East Pakistan (present Bangladesh), resulting in a liberation war and a mammoth refugee crisis.  An estimated 10 million people from East Pakistan seek refuge in India.

Julian Francis, a 26 year-old employee of Oxfam, UK, was working on a Gandhian village development project in Bihar when the refugee influx started. The news of the grim condition of refugees reached his team in Bihar. Soon the then Oxfam’s Field Director for Eastern India and East Pakistan, Raymond Cournoyer, contacted his team and requested their assistance in Kolkata. Francis was given the charge of coordinating relief for refugees. He used to organize and handle the supplies of material. Oxfam worked with 600,000 East Bengali refugees according to his estimates. In an interview with Utsa Sarmin, Francis recalls the refugee crisis of 1971 and Oxfam’s role.

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