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By Zubair Ahmed

It was the story of meteoric rise for Bishnu Pada Ray since 1991 when he, almost single-handed, sowed the seeds of BJP in the Islands and nurtured it. From a mere 4% plus votes in 1991, he kept on increasing his tally ultimately defeating the invincible Manoranjan Bhakta in 1999, and turning the table once again in 2009 defeating the young Turk, Kuldeep Rai Sharma.

In fact, in 1999, it was Kuldeep Rai Sharma's ANC, which gave him his first taste of victory and Manoranjan Bhakta, who offered on a platter another victory in 2009. Both helped him win through surreptitious ways, and in 2014, he has become a formidable force, giving nightmares to both of them.

He had been a difficult person, who could never manage power. His best supporters agree that he could not manage power in spite of all his best intentions. He turned into a crusader out to change the world in one term. In the process he ended up creating an army of opponents both outside and inside the Administration.

His defeat in 2004 was followed by extreme humiliation as he became a pariah in the very organisation he had created himself. All his protégés had turned hostile to him. He was not seen around BJP Bhavan for years together.

Under the circumstances, it was not less than a miracle that he managed the BJP nomination again in 2009 and finally came out victorious against Congress' Kuldeep Rai Sharma.

A resident of Ashoke Nagar in 24 Parganas, West Bengal, Bishnu Pada Ray came to Andamans in search of a job sometime in early seventies. He worked in various capacities including as an LIC agent, in the erstwhile WIMCO Ltd and married a local lass in 1976.

In his first term as MP, he manifested all traits of an angry middle-aged man. Impetuous, hot headed and temperamental, he couldn't stand criticism or opposition even though he believed in wider consultation with various shades of opinions. Tact, diplomacy and discretion were not his high points.

But, time is the best teacher, and the second term saw a sea change in Bishnu. Despite his short honeymoon with Trinamul Congress, he kept connected with the electorate and the ground realities. Rather than people approaching him, he reached them and the bond that he could build in the last five years has become an asset for him.

From a middle aged angry man without a party behind him, he is now a toned down sensible sitting Member of Parliament with a party backing him up.

However, there are cracks and fissures, manifesting its ugly head everywhere, but Bishnu seems confident that it won’t reflect in the elections. It would have to be seen how much he can convert the goodwill that he claims to have developed over the years into votes.

His strained relationship with the State President, Vishal Jolly did push the party backwards, but Bishnu maintained his demeanor, that finally won him secure the seat, despite all misadventures.

"Vishal Jolly is my President and I am under him," he says trying to put all faith in the party and win back the space, that once he avoided.

More than outside, Bishnu might be worried how to keep the folks inside his party together and sail through the rough weather. His recent hobnobbing with the bureaucracy might also give him an edge over others, where he has been accommodated to his content.

Vishal Jolly, the President of his party seems to be in a dilemma, whether to go out and extend support to his candidate openly after all the hullaballoo about the seat. But, it’s for sure that the decision he takes in the present will decide his future political career. Or, the cost he will have to pay in case NDA comes to power will be inconceivable.

The day, Bishnu Pada Ray’s name was announced as the party candidate, it did send shivers in the opponent camp and it’s a fact everybody accepts, including Congressmen. Or, the grapevine was that it would be a cakewalk for Kuldeep Rai Sharma, if Vishal was the candidate. The scene has changed and fight ahead seems to be tough.


The 2014 election is a different ball game altogether. The major fight is between a sitting MP, who has not damaged his prospects and kept himself alive throughout the five years and Kuldeep Rai Sharma, who has the backing of one of the oldest parties who needs a term to prove his worth, and has been quite successful in activating the cooperative movement to his advantage.

Naw-Ruz (which literally means “New Day”) in the Baha’i  Faith is one of nine holy days for adherents of the Baha’i Faith  worldwide and the first day of the first of 19 months in the  Baha'i calendar, which was initiated by the Bab, the  Forerunner of the Faith's Prophet-Founder, Baha'u'llah, who  later confirmed it. It is celebrated on the day of the  astronomical Northward equinox, which usually occurs on  March 21.

 To Baha’is the New Year also symbolizes the renewal of time  in each religious dispensation. The significance of Naw-Ruz in  terms of the equinox and spring-time and the new life it brings.  I quote from the Baha’i Writings:  “….This sacred day when the sun illumines  equally the whole earth is called the equinox and  the equinox is the symbol of the divine  messenger….”

 As with most Baha’i Holy Days, there are no particular fixed  rituals or practices associated with the Baha’i holy days. So, on  an international level, the celebration is generally observed  with a meeting consisting of prayers, feasting and joyful celebration open to all.

 The Baha’i celebration of Naw-Ruz is one of the nine Baha’i  Holy Days on which work is suspended.


 (Compiled by T. Jaya Raju)

By Zubair Ahmed

Despite heavy downpour, the turnout for the Andaman Marathon was commendable, and the Organizers deserve appreciation for that. As announced earlier with pride, as many as six athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia participated in it and in true sportsman spirit beat the Island marathoners in the main event. And, we all clapped and clapped, till they felt that they deserved the applause.

After the devastating 2004 Tsunami, a well-prepared Andaman and Nicobar Islands braced the fury of Cyclone Lehar, which crossed the Islands leaving behind a trail of devastation. With no casualty, the Disaster Management proved its ability to secure human lives by evacuating people from vulnerable areas. Kudos to ANI Admn. and the "never giving up" spirit of the Islanders!

A wave of dissent is simmering throughout the Islands, with rallies, meetings, representations being submitted to the Administration concerned with mainlanders nabbing majority of jobs in the Islands, especially the 420-plus vacancies notified for teachers.

In the half marathon, in General Category female, the Kenyans, Ms. Gladys J. Tarus,  Ms. Everline N. Ancha and Ms. Chenaneat Lorva came First, Second and Third respectively. In the Reserved Category for Islanders female, Ms. Birshi Bhay was 'declared' winner. In the half marathon male, Mr. Daniel Yegum (Kenya), Mr. Antony Moungh (Kenya) and Mr. Gebre Gizachew (Ethiopia) came first, second and third respectively. In the Reserved Category for Islanders male, Mr. Kapil was 'declared' winner.

All the winners truly deserve "applause". There was another category of 10 kms, which was 100% reserved for Islanders. And, once again applause for all those who won their races.

A few decades back, most of the weather forecasts were taken with a pinch of salt. "Chances of rain and sunshine" was a cliché used for weather forecasts. Things have changed. Now, they are able to scientifically predict the speed, intensity, direction and probable time of a cyclone with accuracy to an extent. But, nobody can reduce the speed or intensity, change the direction or postpone a cyclone as per their wish.  Cyclone Lehar came, created havoc and left to "mainland". Applause for the disaster-preparedness!

Contrary to the firm belief, around 1126 applications from mainland have landed at DEO, South Andaman for the 420+ vacancies for teachers. Nothing like speculation! Even if after scrutiny, 50% applications are rejected, there are about 500 applications from mainland with CTET pass. After verification of original testimonials, merit list on the basis of self-marking will be prepared and the results announced.

Now you might be wondering, what is the connection between Andaman Marathon, Cyclone Lehar and Teachers Recruitment.

In Andaman Marathon, all six winners came from outside and took away all the prizes except those 'reserved' for the Islanders. Cyclone Lehar came from outside and created havoc and left. Our share of destruction was however less, as 90% of the fury was "reserved' for mainland. As expected by the 'rumour-mongers' and unforeseen by the Administrator, more than a 1000 applications from the mainland has already reached the shores of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Now, it has to be seen how much mayhem it will generate.

Fortunately, we have an Administrator, who likes to talk his heart unlike his predecessors. Irrespective of the occasion, he touches every issue and tries to convert it into a public spectacle winning huge appreciation and applause.

After the marathon, with his soul-stirring and passionate speech, the Administrator won the hearts and souls of the gathering. They clapped non-stop. He too truly deserved the applause! In fact, the Administrator clinched the opportunity to address those gathered after the culmination of the marathon to clarify or rather express his mind about the confusion or the uproar about Teachers Recruitment. He also utilized the Coop Week function to throw light on the issue.

Referring to rumours that mainland candidates will take away majority of the jobs of teachers, being recruited by the Education Department, the Lt. Governor urged the teachers and students to have confidence in him and reassured them that their interests would be protected and a 'viable' solution arrived at which will stand legal and administrative scrutiny.  He also appealed to the youth not to be misguided by rumours. He said the whole procedure would be fair and transparent.

Now, who are the rumour-mongers? Many delegations have met the Administrator and submitted representations demanding reservation of jobs for the Islanders. Bishnu Pada Ray convened a press meet. Vishal Jolly personally met him. Kuldeep Rai Sharma led a rally and addressed a gathering of candidates and met the Administrator and submitted a representation. Now, who among the three are spreading rumours? All of them are conscious of the fact that there are legal and administrative issues, as a policy is not yet framed. What all of them are demanding individually or collectively is the same - To get an executive order from the Centre for reservation of jobs for the Islanders like it exists in different UTs viz. Daman and Diu, Pondicherry, Delhi etc. What is perplexing is the fact that Kuldeep Rai Sharma's rally and public meeting was an eye-opener and a positive step, whereas all others are rumour-mongers. It’s the same old beaten path Bhopinder Singh had followed. What Island Protection Forum is demanding and other political and social organisations are asking for are the same. And it’s a fact that 1126 applications from mainland have already landed in Andamans.

The Islanders have been smitten not once, but twice - Tsunami farmers issue and Buffer Zone. Hence they are thrice shy now rather than lucky! They are anxious and apprehensive.

The Administrator has already assured that he will not leave any stone unturned in protecting the interests of the Islanders, but with a caveat, as it’s not in his hands. He will approach Prime Minister and other leaders in the Centre.

What the Islanders are genuinely worried is the precarious situation where after a long wait outside the operation theatre, door opens and the doctor comes out, pulls his gloves off and says, "Sorry, I couldn't save him."

By Zubair Ahmed

Its forty seven years now that the Islands started sending their elected representatives to Lok Sabha. For the first 15 years after Independence, the Member of Parliament was nominated.

When the Island goes to poll on 10th April 2014, it would be thirteenth time that the Island will elect a representative.

For the first time, in 1967 the people of Andaman and Nicobar Islands exercised their right to send an elected representative to the Lok Sabha. K R Ganesh, a son of the Island, a veteran trade unionist and a political leader, who justified his election, made the Islands an effective entity on the political map of India. He rose to become Deputy Minister of Finance in his first term as Member of Parliament.

The Islanders might be quite justified in questioning his loyalty to the Islands and his contribution towards its development. But his contribution to the growth of trade unions and his crusade against dictatorial bureaucracy of the time cannot be wished away. It was largely due to his efforts that these Islands are a Union Territory now.

But, he proved that as a Member of Parliament, he too can play a major role in setting the destiny of the nation, not just to be a rubber stamp, as the position has been demeaned by his successors.

Whenever he intervened in the debates, he raised questions regarding the development of the Islands. But, the scope of his parliamentary activities did not remain confined to the Islands. He spoke on internal and external policies with force and clarity. He took keen interest in the political struggle against the conservative elements both inside the Congress and outside. His writings and speeches set the tone for discussions on vital issues.

He had found the Andaman Association in 1954 which merged with the Andamans District Congress in 1958 and won the first election on Congress ticket.  K R Ganesh made his maiden speech in the first session of the third Lok Sabha pleading for the development of fisheries and rubber plantation in Andamans, for which he said there was great scope.

In his first address in the House, he said, “…as the population increases as more and more people are settled in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, it is becoming absolutely necessary that the administrative system that existed in the Islands must be transformed and further democratic reforms introduced in the Islands…”

On KR Ganesh, The Statesman wrote on 1 April 1967, “Living in the Andamans has not made Mr Ganesh insular. He made his debut in the Lok Sabha during the debate on the Budget with a speech which showed insight into the problems not only of the area he comes from but of the mainland. He wants to specialize in basic economic policies.”

To focus public attention on the problems of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, K R Ganesh asked nearly 170 questions in the Lok Sabha related to administration, development and resources, corruption and administrative lapses, agriculture and new settlement areas, transport and shipping, education, forest and industry, Nicobar and tribal issues. And, the significance of these questions can be judged from the fact that they were tabled during the first 15 months of his election to the Lok Sabha.

Many questions that KR Ganesh asked in 1967 are the same set of questions that his successors, after fifty years are still asking without any major change on the ground.

On 21 December 1967, he raised the issue of scarcity of specialists in the Island hospitals and asked about the efforts of the Government to post doctors possessing specialist qualifications in medicine in the Andaman Civil Hospital. The search for a permanent solution still continues, and maybe the move to establish a Medical College will be the answer he was seeking.

On August 5, 1968, he enquired about the possibility of oil resources in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and about schemes to conduct deep sea drilling in the Islands? On August 6, 1968 he asked about survey of the mineral resources of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. As a result a survey was carried out by the Geological Survey of India, and occurrences of limestone, chromite, asbestos, sulphur, volcanic ash, lignite, coal and clays were recorded.

On 5 July 1967, he also did ask about the result of students who had appeared for the Higher Secondary School Examination and the reason for the dismal performance. The reply was that no special study had been conducted to find out the reasons.

On 3 April 1967, he had asked about a proposal to upgrade the Port Blair Radio Station, and he was told that the equipment required for up-gradation is being arranged and will be implemented within the 4th Five Year Plan. The state of the Station today is nothing to talk about even after 12th Five Year Plan.

The issue of large scale misuse of Government labour for private domestic purposes especially Class IV employees working in the residences of officers was also raised by him in 1967.

It may be debatable whether he was a good representative or not, he did leave a mark. He did falter and he had to pay for it. The Islanders did not give him a second chance. In spite of all his public failings he was the first Islander to hoist and unfurl the national flag at Gymkhana ground on Republic and Independence days. He did make us proud at some point of time. His tenure as Minister had brought these Islands into sharp media focus.


For a contrast, if the report card of his successor, who was elected by the Islanders for about eight terms, is prepared, it would be quite a disappointing exercise.

By Dr Sudip Chakraborty, M.D (Medicine)

In continuation with my previous three articles on marathon, this one is the last of the series. It feels great to see increasing number of joggers at Marina Park early in the morning. It is like marathon is in the air.

If you live in a place for long enough, you become the place. It happened with me. Being a third generation son of these islands, I am witnessing a sea change in the attitude of Islander’s especially inadequate physical activity and rise in cardio vascular diseases that include diabetes. Therefore, these articles are aimed for a change in habits, however small it might appear. No amount of kudos will be enough for Andaman chamber of commerce for organizing a event which has the potential of transforming health and saving the loss of man days because of ill health.

So here follows the ten points;

1) Have a pacer. Pacer is a friend or known person who runs for some distance during various stages of race. They are invaluable source of motivation and keep you from quitting.

2) Keep as many relatives and friends at as many points of marathon route with juices, coconut water etc so that you are well motivated and encouraged. Moreover, in this process invariably you will some inspire some of your friends to run the race next time.

3) Try to keep your mouth moist by sucking some gum or toffee. It fools the brain that you are well hydrated and postpones tiredness to some extent.

4) Keep your eyes fixed to the ground beneath and try to run on a straight line. You will have fewer distractions and won’t know how many people has crossed you, thus saving your ego from getting hurt.

5) Pain is inevitable except for seasoned runners. So don’t be surprised and take it on your stride.

6) Brisk walking is more strenuous than slow jogging. It hurts tendon achillies and heel of foot.

7) Conserve energy, probably the most important thing by less talking, going slow and at sustained manageable pace and avoiding mouth breathing as much as possible.

8) Match your breath with the sound of your footsteps. Develop a rhythm and concentrate on it. In no time, you will see the finishing line.

9) Read motivating books on long distance running like ultra marathon man by Dean Karnazes , runners world guide , Lure of long distance etc.

10) Finally some powerful quotes to keep your mind from going astray;

a) Pain is temporary and regrets forever.

b) What counts in a battle is what you do when the pain sets in.

c) Success seems largely a matter of hanging on when others have let it go.

d) That which does not kill you, will make you stronger.

e) He, who suffers, remembers.

f) If you are going through hell, you rather keep going. There is not much scenery to look around.

g) Second half of marathon separates boys from men and girls from women.

So here is wishing all the marathoners good luck. A reward of higher self-esteem, self-respect and mind expansion is waiting for you. Go and earn it.