Monday, December 01, 1997

KTWV02-Issue 10: Email from Principal Wilson



Christmas is upon us here in the North Pole (figuratively speaking) and the snow cover, though there in plenty to lighten the dark days, is not too much so that we have to dig our way out. Not that late sleepers, like me, have to dig our way out as the snow ploughs shift the snow in the city during the early hours.

The last month has been one of consolidation and thanks to the mail from our tireless New Yorker, Sreenath (you can read an interview with S-cubed on Indialine) , who sent us that humourous note about Dr. Anil Wilson's thoughts about our much loved Stephanian corridors (please email me if you did not receive it and I will send you a copy), I established contact with our lively Head of State.

Here is his last message, which includes invitations all round - so I hope that those of you in the vicinity will take the opportunity to join up in the festivities.
From: Dr. Anil Wilson,
St. Stephen's College,

Dear Jacob,

Delighted to hear from you and to know about you in some detail.

I have visited the web site and enjoyed what I read there though I could not access the one with your photograph ( Ed: I wonder why - as it comes up without any problem - anyone else had this problem - or is the devil in that picture playing tricks with your computer?).

Regarding the College version of Kooler Talk, it may interest you to know that after I took over as Principal (January 1991) I discovered that quite a few traditions had flittered away which I felt should be restored. In this process I came across old copies of Kooler Talk (Ed: I wonder whether he found the one with the scandulous article by the 3 HEAPS - Big Heap (me), Middle Heap and Little Heap?) but could not find out why it should have been stopped. Hence, I decide to put it back on the rails and asked Dr.Vijay Tankha, (who, as you know is teaching Philosophy here and is also an Old Boy) to become the Staff Adviser. Last year Vijay went off on study leave and now the Staff Adviser is Dr. Christel Devadawson (read English at College then did her Ph.D. from Cambridge and is now on the faculty).

It would interest you to know that the JCR activities, that you initiated, are going strong. Instead of a JCR Evening (Ed: My lasting contribution to Stephenia - I now know I have done at least one valuable thing in my life!!), now we have a JCR Week!! (Ed: If I find my bridge partner Ajay Verma, we will take on anyone but the Rai twins (Suraj and Chander) at a bridge challenge competition!!)

These days College is preparing for the Founder's Day. Normally this is on Dec. 7, but 7th being a Sunday, we are commemorating it on Dec 6, 10.30 am IST.

(Ed: Dec. 6th is the 80th Finnish Independence Day - so we will be watching on TV all the dignatories, including our own Ambassador, Mrs. Kumar, enjoying their fun and frolic in the Presidential Palace in Helsinki.)

Ved Prakash Marwah (distinguished Stephanian) (Ed: Will someone fill me in on Ved and the exploits that have made him distinguished) will deliver the Founder's Day address.

In recent years I have made it a point to invite only Stephanians as Chief Guests for this occasion. B. G. Verghese (Ed: Who married a lady Stephenain of the 50's era, glamourous Jameela, for those who think that women in college is a new fangled sport) was our guest a couple of years ago. Letters of invitation are sent to those Old Students in Delhi whose addresses we have on our files.

(I wonder if there are a good number on the Web Stephanian Directory and if so could that be used to send them this invitation?)

The Old Students Reunion and Lunch is on Sunday December 14. Normally 350 to 400 Old Students turn up. (This too could be notified through the 'net')

In order to make this occasion more meaningful I have added a few things to it, apart from the usual basketball and tennis matches: we put up an exhibition of old photographs and memorabilia which is very popular, we remember the 'dear departed' during the previous year, and invite three of the oldest Stephanians present to speak about their days in College. I have also taken to inviting ten to fifteen Junior Members (the President of the Students Union Society, of the JCR, Secretary of the Social Service League, Shake Soc etc. etc.) to be the 'hosts' and receive the Old Students as they come in and, in general, to interact with them.

Well, there is so much more to write, but let that be for the next time.

(Yes, Kundan Singh (Ed: my absolutely wonderful gyp - who made me drink a glass of milk morning and night - following my mother's orders) is going strong).

Best Wishes,


Amongst the other letters I had was one from Singapore.

Subject: From a fellow Stephanian
Sent: 26/11/97 01:27
From: Akash Mohapatra, email address provided

Hi Jacob,

It has been a real pleasure to go through the Kooler Talk (Ed: Web Version, I assume). I have been following it since the past year or so.

I am Akash Mohapatra, Economics - 1989.

Presently based in Singapore. It made me so nostalgic.(Ed: It seems our dinosaur from Canada is not the only one is driven into nostalgia by this electronic noise!!)

I had called college last week and Raghunathji is now the Section Officer - Where there was Mr Rampall earlier. I was told that a Girl's Hostel has been opened in college, near the New LCR.

I must say St. Stephens is putting in it's bit for gender equality. I was very happy to hear this. I wonder when the college will have a Lady Principal(Ed: Watch out Anil - Now you have a real unequal threat!!) and a Lady President.

We had a Stephanian get together here in Singapore about 3 months ago and are planning another get together this Sunday, November 30th and I am taking copies of the Kooler Talk and Vepa's History of St Stephen's to share with everyone.

(Ed: If you can rattle up some ad revenue for this rag out there in Singapore from our well-to-do Stephanians - and also from the New York and Washington groups - maybe we can make this webletter into a bundle of joy with some glitzy pictures and video images, some real audio featuring music from Stephanian Jazz and Pop groups, etc., etc.!!)

We are about 25 Stephanians here in Singapore and I shall send you the list.



My Address and contact.
Tele:.. 65 - 3567792 (Res) 65 - 2901306 (Off)
Email: (Work) (Home)
Blk 194, Kim Keat Avenue, # 10-420, Singapore 310194

Joanna (pronounced Yoanna), my younger daughter (a Masters in English Philology from our local university) dumped an enormous book "A Suitable Boy" on my table before she left for a long holiday to India to show off my first grandson (8 months) to his greatgrandmother in Bangalore. She sort of mumbled that it was by a fellow alma materite - Vikram Seth.

Looking at the sheer size of the book - 1474 pages - I told her that I doubted very much if any Stephanian would have the concentration to sit down and write such an elephantine monster.

In my younger days I was a master of speed reading - 1500 words per minute - but with age (bad vision and lack of concentration in matters not of utmost importance and interest - as the latest cricket scores and match reports) it has dropped back to the normal sedate 300 words per minute - so it is going to take me a good, long time before I finish this book - sort of 10 pages a day schedule.

Will someone confirm or deny the antecedents of Vikram - as if he is one of us I will have to indicate that in my Authors and Personalities page where a couple of other Stephanian names (e.g., Arun Shourie, Shashi Tharoor) have found their way into the hall of fame alongside Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, etc....

Now a request from someone who wants to be Stephanian -

Subject: College info
Sent 20/11/97 17:29

Respected (Ed: I am flattered) Mr. Matthan,

You are probably wondering who the hell I am?

Well, my name is Rashmi and I am studying abroad; to be specific in the American school in Athens. My parents however cannot afford to send me to the States for a College education, so I decided I wanted to go to the St. Stephens College in Delhi.

My parents told me it was a very good college in Delhi. But in order to go I really wanted some advice as to what percentage you need to get accepted and what the interview is about. I mean what type of questions they ask you!

So after a lot of surfing (Ed: Must have been wind-surfing - any Stephanian or would-be Stephanian would know that by typing Kooler into any search engne you will land up at this page. :-)) on the net I found this site.

Please guide me - I 'll really appreciate it !


Yours Sincerely,


Sadly Rashmi did not give me her email address so there was no point of forwarding her request to the people who could help her. If anyone knows who she is or if she happens to surf by again, please send the correct email address to me and I will ensure that your request is sent to some present day Stephanian who can advise you - sitting on top of the world here in Finland, I am ill-equipped to give any info on the subject.

Maybe Anil will take note and help me put up a web site which has all relevant data about our honoured institution - something we cannot put off for much longer in this day and age. My old school, Cathedral in Bombay, has decided to put up its site - a flashy one with the Princi's picture, splash screen, etc. after the success of my other webletter - Seventh Heaven.

And finally a note from one mini-Stephanian searching for another.

Subject: Do you know Christopher Cecil?
(Ed: Thought it was Christopher Robin :-) )
Sent: 25/11/97 10:57

Looking for an eco honours student who started at St Stephens in 1960. Any info will be appreciated

Dharam Pal Luthra

P.S. I joined St Stephens with him in 1960, became his buddy but then left India

Ed: I did know a Chris - but I cannot swear he was surnamed Cecil, and I certainly do not know whether he was an Eco Honours student - but I am sure one of our many 1960 - 63 crowd (e.g., Sujit Bhattacharaya, Montek Singh Alhuwallia, Rajagopal Narayanan, etc.) should be able to help Dharam.

Surfers have helped fill this issue and my news bank has remained intact for another issue or two. Do please write and tell me what is happening in your area (we have Stephanians in over 70 countries who have been surfing in to this site) so that Stephanians in that region can meet up and take part in events, such as in the Big Apple and Singapore.

Wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope you will join me again to read a bumper New Year Edition on the 1st of January 1998.

Till then, Your shivering frozen editor

(You should read the great tip about how to get yourself a home-made hot water bottle which I use every cold winter night!!)

Jacob from the Arctic

Saturday, November 01, 1997

KTWV02-Issue 9: Gossip galore

Another month has passed. Hence, it looks as if the routine of the web version of Kooler Talk will be as a monthly, despite a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth from many of you. It is no stress for me to keep this going at this pace.

First - some of the hot news about a few Stephanians.

Rathikant Basu is again in the news, as he and Rupert Murdoch were asked to appear in front of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Delhi, Prem Kumar, on 27th October for "offensively invading and depraving public morals" for showing 4 "obscene" films on Star TV using cable transmission.

How hypocritical can some in Indian society be if they feel that movies can deprave and yet allow all the possible violence to be shown, day-in and day-out, in the Bollywood productions. The suggestive sex in Bollywood films is far more depraving than anything that I have seen on the western screen during my 30 plus years of living in a Western society, but, of course, moralists in India cannot dare challenge the money and power of Bollywood!!

Another couple of Stephanians in the limelight are Pradip Kishen, husband of Arundhati Roy, who was the first home-grown Indian to win the Booker Prize this year, and Pradip's elder daughter Pia (20) - Arundhati's step-daughter, currently a 3rd year history student at Stephen's. Pia is a fourth generation Stephanian, and all the generations have studied history. Pradip is a film director. He has directed three feature films, Massey Sahib, In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones and Electric Moon (facts courtesy Stephanian Debasish Mukerji - special correspondent of The WEEK).

Massey Sahib was hilarious. My better half (Annikki) and I had the chance to convert the script of this movie to Finnish and Annikki read the script over the microphone (microphone interpretation) while the movie was being shown during the International Children's Film Festival held here in Oulu a few years ago. I must admit that is one of the very few movies that I have enjoyed in recent years. I understand that Arundhati acted in Massey Sahib, although I do not particularly remember the cast.

Pradip's younger daughter, Mithva, who is the 12th standard in a school in Dehra Dun, may also become a Stephanian, but maybe not, as she may follow in Arundhati's footsteps as a writer or an architect (?), now that the world is at their feet.

Now let us take a look at a Stephanian who has been in touch with me during the lay-off of this web-rag. I had mail from someone whose address was shown as Inderjit Jhala who claimed to be in Stephen's the same time as me.

Date: Mon, 24 Mar 1997 10:41:56 +0530
From: Indrajit Jhala (email address provided)
Subject: Hi Jacob, Remember Me?

Came across the KT Page , U did not tell the sequel to the Luck story, i.e. the revenge of the Bridge Fanatics, and poor Luck's situation as reported by Kundan Singh. More if I can get a reply from u.


I knew of two Jhala's but no Indrajit, and in my carelessness I had not noted the signature which was in the body of the message. So I sent a message describing the two Jhala's I knew and back came the reply:

Got your prompt reply. First let me make a few small corrections in yr recollection of yrs truly.

* My name is Nirmal Jhala, Indrajit our eldest boy is the holder of the VSNL student's concession account. I only fiddle about with it now and then.
* I am NOT the gent who acquired undying fame as "Mad" Jhala, that distinction belongs to Mahendra Jhala who was also a part of our gang of cricket freaks, Ajit(singhji) being the first member (Jacob: Ajit was my year, - captain of the Stephanian cricket team in our last year 1962-63 and possibly the cousin of Stephanian and Indian wicket-keeper Inderjitsinghji. Ajit was a real gem of a person, always smiling, even when he was out for a duck!!).

He died soon after leaving college, of throat cancer, never having smoked all his life. Incidentally, Mahendra also lives in Cal. He now leads a life of leisure, having quit after a near fatal encounter with a brain tumour. He has a son working in USA.
* Parmar, Jitu - (Jacob: Also a fabulous and elegant stroke-player) has retired to his home town Rajkot. He played Ranji Trophy for a few years.
* Re self, I joined the IAS in '67, Married a fellow probationer, Krishna Dasgupta , (sister of C. S. Dasgupta, History '61, IFS '62 (Jacob: Remember him very well - very prim and proper, he was), Currently at Brussels), Transferred from Haryana to W Bengal in '72, Begot Three boys, IJ, Age 22, first year IIM Cal, Ranjit J., Age 19, 2'nd yr Computr. IIT Delhi, and Sanjit J, 17, hoping to do same this yr. (Jacob: Sadly, like me, no Stephanian genealogy to follow!!)

That more or less sums up the story of my life. Yes, I have been working, if that is the word, for the Govt. of WB and for the GOI for about thirty years now. Not much to show for it ,as you can see from the little story (Jacob: not) given below. Don't send it out on KT (Jacob: Sorry Kooler Talkians, only my privilege to get to see some of the juicy stuff), The Statesman might object.

The Moral of the Story

Nirmal Jhala

Jacob's memory had struck again!!

More next month about some more Stephanians of the past - so keep those letters rolling in!!


Jacob Matthan,
Honorary Editor,
Kooler Talk (Web Version),
Oulu, Finland

Web Pages of Stephanians

Alumni Directory

As requested by many of you, here is a list of Stephanians with web pages (thanks to Krishna Kumar) unsorted - oldest (used to be me at the top of the list).

Let me know of any mistakes or any missing ones. I shall try to find a permanent place for this list and also try to keep it up-to-date.

Keep your fingers crossed and Click - and hopefully you should reach the page in question.

I am still waiting for our Monsieur from Canada to replace me as the oldest Stephanian on the web!!

Updated as of 2nd August 2005

1. Dr. Anthony P Stone's Staff
2. Enver Masud 1959 B.Sc.
3. Jacob Matthan 1963 B.Sc.
4. Vikram Randhir SriHari 1969 B.Sc. Link Not Functioning
5. Cyrus Mehta 1974 B.A. (Hons.) History
6. Rajive K. Khanna 1974 B.Sc. Passed away Link removed
7. Gautam N. Achanta 1978 B.Sc. (Hons) Physics
8. Anil K. Sahai 1979 B.A. (Hons.) Mathematics
9. Sunil Joel Porter 1979 B.Sc. Link Not Functioning
10. Satyen G. Baindur 1982 B.Sc. (Hons.) Physics 1984 M.Sc. Physics Link Not Functioning
11. Raman Uppal 1983 B.A. (Hons.) Economics
12. Priya Raghubir 1983 B.A. (Hons) Economics
13. Michael Joseph Rebello 1984 B.A. (Hons.) Economics Link Not Functioning
14. Bhala Narayan Ghatate 1987 B.Sc. (Hons.) Mathematics
15. Bhaskar Vira 1988 B.A. (Hons.) Economics
16. Gita Kerstin Lal 1988 B.A. (Hons.) Economics
17. Mandhir Singh Uppal 1988 B.A. (Hons.) Mathematics
18. Amartya Tanay Bhattacharjya, 1989 B.Sc. (Hons.) Physics Link Not Functioning
19. Ram Seshadri 1989 B.Sc. (Hons.) Chemistry
20. Sunil Saxena 1989 B.Sc. Chemistry
21. Gautam Bhandari 1990 B.Sc. (Hons.) Chemistry
22. Radhika Vathsan 1990 B.Sc. (Hons.) Physics
23. Sushmita Roy 1990 B.Sc. Chemistry Link Not Functioning
24. Krishna Kumar 1991 B.Sc. (Hons.) Chemistry
25. Rajiv Krushna Kamilla 1991 B.Sc. (Hons.) Physics Link Not Functioning
26. Sanjay K. Reddy 1991 B.Sc. (Hons.) Physics Link Not Functioning
27. Sreenath Sreenivasan 1991 B.A. (Hons.) History
28. Kaustav Biswas 1992 B.Sc. (Hons.) Chemistry Link Not Functioning
29. Abhishek Begerhotta, 1992 B.A. (Hons.) Mathematics Link Not Functioning
30. Saurabh Saxena 1992 B.Sc. Link Not Functioning
31. Subir Kumedan 1993 B.Sc. (Hons.) Chemistry
32. Arvind Ranganathan 1994 B.Sc. Link Not Functioning
33. Divya Mahajan 1995 B.Sc. (Hons.) Mathematics Link Not Functioning
34. Jhelum Chowdhury 1995 B.A. (Hons.) Economics Link Not Functioning
35. Shymmon Banerjee 1995 Link Not Functioning
36. Rajesh Ranjan 1996 B.A.(Hons.) Economics
37. Royans K Tharakan 1997 B.Sc. Computer Science Great Site!!!!
38. Kanishka Singh 1998 B.A. (Hons.) Economics Link Not Functioning
39. Shashi Tharoor 1975 B. A. History
40. Ali Kazimi B. A. 1982
41. Luke George Haokip 1995 B.A. (Hons.) English 1997 M.A. English
42. Tushar Dev 1985 B.A. (Hons.) Economics

Wednesday, October 01, 1997

KTWV02-Issue 8: Resilience

Thank you fellow Stephanians for welcoming back Kooler Talk (Web Version) with open arms.

I hope all of you did not mind me sending you the good news about the Cool Site Award given to us for our work on the web, which included this Kooler Talk (Web Version) site.

I promise that these Press Releases, which are usually only for the Press - will not become a habit, but I was so thrilled that I got a bit carried away to get such a solid recognition from SearchPoint, the centre that I personally consider as the most useful to carry out searches on the web.

During the lay-off, several of you have fed me with news and stories which I shall slowly start to unravel and unveil in coming issues.

Please do not stop sending me material for me to keep constructing a readable webletter. Here are a few recent letters - I am working my way backwards.

Subject: Thanks from Rajesh Ranjan
Received: 9/9/97 12:12 pm
From: rajesh ranjan, email address supplied

Dear Mr. Matthan,

I am really touched by your dedication and commitment to the Stepahanian cause (whatever that means).

Sir, you have done a great job by bringing out the Kooler Talk (Web Version).

I joined "College" in 1993 (Economics, presently at IIM-C). I used to write the various "spices" only as Kooler Talk was too much of an "intellectual" affair.

Till 1996, the year I graduated, the "spice" culture was kept alive by few enterprising souls. But I do feel that it is on its way out (they aren't that interesting and exciting anymore).

May be you can think of bringing out one spice (web version, of course). It would be much easier for you to take the initiative as you have data regarding all the Stephanians.

It can cover all the Stephanian glitterati (once agian, whatever that means)!!

Thank you.

Rajesh Ranjan IIM-C

Rajesh assumes that I would know much about Spice - but it happened a long time after my days in college. Being 7000 km away from Delhi makes it also a bit difficult to get hold of the real spicy news!

My knowledge of Spice is limited to what Jhelum Chowdhury wrote in the Kooler Talk Web Version 01 - Issue 5 way back in June 1996, which, to say the truth was very little.

If any one of you would care to send me a few issues (which I agree must be difficult if it was a underground publication) - maybe I can try to parody an issue within this Web Version!!

Subject: Kooler Talk Sent: 31/8/97 9:13 pm
From: Krishan Dhawan email address supplied

I stumbled across the site today and really enjoyed going through it and was disappointed to see that it had been shut down. I will appreciate your letting me know if it resurrects.

I was in college and residence in 1973-76 doing a BA in Economics. I was one of KT's editors in 1974-75. I think it was shut down in 75-76 because of the Emergency.

I currently live in Los Angeles.


Krishan Dhawan

KrishD came upon the site a day before it was restarted! He was indeed most happy that he could get to the restarted version.

Maybe Krish should read Kooler Talk Web Version 01 - Issue 2 where Amitabh Dubey, son of a Stephanian of the same era as me, Suman Dubey, told us how Kooler Talk was restarted in 1991 by Vijay Tankha (a philosophy professor) and himself and how he was followed by Siddhartha Sivaramakrishnan as the editor.

It was most interesting to hear that KT was shut down because of the 1975 Emergency. Mrs. Gandhi had a novel way of censorship - she cut the newsprint quota to newspapers that did not toe her line. I did not know that KT had such a wide readership during those days to have been affected by Mrs. G's method!!

Subject: Re: Kooler Talk Web Version Reappears New URL
Sent: 28/8/97 7:33 pm
From: Srikanth Rajagopalan, email address supplied

Hi Mr. Matthan,

Please change my ID on your mailing list to:

email address supplied

Congratulations on your work and resilience!

All the best,


I must admit my resilience part as whatever the troubles, it is my Stephanian spirit and background that has helped me fight back with double vigour. Anyway, beside the cost of web space, a pretty hefty telephone bill as I am not on a direct conection, and a bit of my time, there is not much to do in putting up this webletter so long as I get such excellent feedback from all you Stephanians out there.

Our web page of well-known Indian authors and personalities already features, what I hope is the complete works of, two Stephanians - Shashi Tharoor and Arun Shourie, who as many of you will remember, was my hockey captain. Shashi, however, was just a 4 year-old todler while Arun and I were fighting Hindu Collegeites with hockey sticks during our heady days in Stephen's.

I used the biodata provided by Srini in his info to New York Stephanians as the intro to the works of Shashi (hope you do not mind Srini).

I hope others will let me know the names of other Stephanian authors so that I can list their books on the pages I have created as a tribute to great Indian writers.

I was pleasantly surprised when I got some mail from a company in Delhi called Info Edge who contacted me about a web page they are running for a company called Sanka India Ltd, which is called naukri - a sort of head hunting and placement service.

When I asked for details I found that two Stephanians were among the enterprising souls behind this company - Sanjeev Bikhchandani 34, BA Eco. St. Stephen's MBA IIM Ahmedabad and Surabhi Motihar 32, BA Eco. St Stephen's MBA IIM Ahmedabad.

Seems quite a few Stephanians are following the route to get MBA's after their stint at Stephen's, a sort of change from the days when everyone headed for the IAS/IFS/IPS exams.

More in a month.


Jacob Matthan,
Honorary Editor,
Kooler Talk (Web Version),
Oulu, Finland

Sunday, August 31, 1997

KTWV02-Issue 7: BBC deabate in Stephania Land

Fellow Stephanians,

Here I am again folks.

I hope this time round that I will have input from all you Stephanians out there to ensure that I can keep up this web zine for as long as I am able.

I start with a very nostalgic moment of this week.

I was not able to tune in to BBC World Service at 5 pm last Sunday (24th August 1997) to hear International Youth Debate which was billed to come from Delhi. I had to pick up my better half from work just during that hour. This year she is having a holiday looking after a museum which is open on Sundays during the summer and autumn (she gets to work when she gets home to look after this slob).

Come Monday morning, at 11.15 am on a beautiful early autumn morning, I sat comfortably next to my Sangean digital shortwave set and tuned in to BBC to listen to an edited version of the previous day's debate.

Like International Question Hour (as readers who read the LATE LATE NEWS will know, the programme on which I put a question to Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General), given a chance I always take time off from my absolutely Stephanian-like schedule (in short - bumming around) to enjoy these well organised BBC listener participation programmes.

The topic of the debate chaired by Britisher - Ms. Sahara Chauhan of the BBC was "50 Years of Independence and Still No Freedom".

(I hope all the characters mentioned here will excuse me if I do not have all the names correct as they were deciphered over the usual radio noise and the general assumption that everyone in the world understands a name spoken over the radio).

I was happily surprised (although I do not know why - after all, from where else can a debate in Delhi come from), just as when someone serves up Sherry Trifle for dessert, when Sahara announced that the debate was coming from our beloved institution, St. Stephen's College, Delhi.

Sahara asked Vinembra Agarwal to put forward the proposition. Vinembra did this in a masterly fashion as only Stephanians know how.

This transported me through time to the lively debates that I had listened to and participated in during the early sixties in the Assembly Hall

(I was never of top calibre debating skill during my time in Stephen's with the likes of Montek Singh Alhuwalia and many Aiyars (Mani, Swami and friends) around, but I had my day when I was later in London where my fast-talking Stephanian PJ skills shone against the rather mediocre mundane natives of England.)

The main thrust of Vinembra's argument was that as 97% of Indians are in the unorganised sector, 30% live in abject poverty, and as the per capita income is just $340, in the main areas of life, economic, social and political, the mass of Indians can by no stretch of the imagination be considered free (freedom being something which is individual-oriented) even after 50 years of independence. Vinembra said that freedom was only on paper. Discrimination of all communities (ironically, presently including the upper classes) was a fact of life and the corrupt political system was so evident that today a politician was able to install an unelected person, his wife, on the throne as Chief Minister when he was being hauled over the coals for possible corrupt practices!

Certainly a strong opening shot. I waited with bated breath for the reply.

Jaideep Bagchi was asked to respond. This was a well-grounded presentation in true debating fashion - not just a reeling off of counter arguments. Jaideep argued that independence is the freedom of the individual to choose. The fact the Indian electorate has on several occasions removed Governments, the most notable being Indira Gandhi after she imposed her emergency for 2 years, showed that India had a responsible and knowledgeable electorate.

Jaideep certainly had the audience moving in his direction with his arguments and elocution ability.

When the topic was then opened to the floor, the question of the literacy level in India came into question. With this came the usual question whether better education would result in freedom. It was here the bourgeois opinions started to tumble out when the elite(?) of society, Stephanians, linked education with literacy?

The arguments were strong and fierce but, in my opinion, they all missed the vital point about what is education?

Is a farmer, who can till his land at the right time using all the correct agricultural practices which have been handed down from time immemorial and not corrupted by present day non-eco type agricultural methods, and who produces bumper sustainable harvests from his small tract of land, but yet is unable to read and write or even sign a piece of paper, i.e., illiterate by standards laid down by the UN, uneducated?

Or, is education only achieved by becoming a Stephanian?

Moving to the second half of the proposition, Abajit Safiriyan was asked to present the future scenario.

Abajit used a very appropriate simile when he alluded to the bribery and corruption that was in place in India and that it was like a cancer which could not be cured by just a dose of chemotherapy. Abajit made a strong case that if India and Indians really wanted to be free, then, like the cancer or tumour, major surgery was required and the offending organ had to be removed by its roots.

Rahul Uspana was requested to respond. Rahul made a spirited attack on the proposers. He pointed out that today, 14 parties were in coalition to form the United Democratic Front Government in Delhi, with many States of the Union having completely different political parties in power, but yet able to form a national framework government. He drew reference to a few statistics, that exports were up 13%, the gross domestic product had increased by 7% and that India's market share of the world economy had doubled since independence. He projected that freedom would continue to increase for all Indians with greater globalisation.

Although there was not a woman debater on the dias, there was much solid contribution from the opposite sex from the floor. Certainly made my mind to wander back to our female-free environment of the sixties!!

The crux of the debate suddenly revolved around the fact that India had taken 200 years to attain Independence and hence 50 years was just a short period of time in a nation's history. As was succinctly put, the British had suggested that India should have independence when the people were "educated" - which undoubtedly would have been on a never-never basis!!

A key issue arose when Sahara posed the question whether everyone considered India was a happy land? Another question that came into the debate was how and when inequalities in society would be eliminated? Unfortunately, no clearcut answers to these questions emerged during the debate.

Sadly, the time flew by so quickly that the edited version of 45 minutes was over before I even realised it, ending in a vote, with 21 for the proposition and 34 against.

Personally, on a debating basis, I would have tied the debate, as all four participants were superb, in their debating skills and the content that they presented. I would have asked the (British) Chairperson to give her casting vote, but Stephanian dry vindictive humour was sadly not to be seen here in that context!!

I must admit that Sahara did a very professional job in the chair, almost as if she were a Stephanian (compliment or insult - Sahara?).

What was so illuminating was that even after a period of just over 30 years, although a generation may have passed, over the radio waves it was as if I was listening all over again to my friends and colleagues debating in the auditorium.

The attitudes and the stances were typically Stephanian in character and roused memories so poignant that as I looked out over the gleaming golden sunlit autumn leaves on the trees which surround our wooden arctic hut, I was transported back to the early wintery feeling of Stephen's as we congregated on the lawn, fringed with a few rose bushes, in front of Mukerji Block to debate the burning issues of our then world - whether the Mess Secretary should be fired for the lousy aloo-gobi served up for lunch, whether Sukhia's barfris were indeed the best in the world or at least in the Stephen's compound (our universe), or whether Deepchand was really the best barber/masseur in Delhi?

Well done Stephanians and thank you for dropping in to my home on that day (and in passing - also thanks to BBC!!). Hopefully, I have taken the mood to all those web surfing Stephanians who missed your performances.

One more news item in this issue that should interest Stephanians is that The WEEK, the Indian weekly from Cochin has come online. The latest cover story concerns none other than, guess who - a Stephanian in trouble.

You will remember not long ago I mentioned how Rathikant Basu, a good friend and colleague in college in the early sixties had been appointed as the head of Star TV India by Rupert Murdoch.

It seems that jealousy has taken hold of the situation and Rathikant is in the middle of a fantastic storm that is rocking the Indian establishment. The WEEK has featured it as their latest cover story. It is a good read.

Since The WEEK is also run by two Stephanians, and is a sister publication of this (our roots are the same as we are all of the K. C. Mammen Mappillai - Malayala Manorama stock), it is worth a read as the back-up Stephanian publication on the web!! [ :-) which means broad smile for some of you not so web savvy Stephanians]

Of course, nothing could replace Kooler Talk (Web Version) as your primary No. 1 Stephanian web magazine - it is your magazine which I am privileged to host!! [because this old badger thought of it FIRST]

I hope all of you will take note and feed me with stories and anecdotes to keep this a lively web site in its reincarnation - something which is quite common for Kooler Talk per se. Do let me know whether you feel it should be a monthly or a quarterly, or God forbid - a fortnightly. I do not want to penetrate your lives too much with too many scandulous stories - but a few contributions would be worth receiving.

Thank you for bearing with me as I have invaded your privacy yet again!! More in awhile.

Your (g)host (PJ of The WEEK?)

Jacob Matthan,
Honorary Editor,
Kooler Talk (Web Version),
Oulu, Finland