Sunday, January 31, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 07: Alumnis waking up

First it was New York (Prof. Sreenath Sreenevasan), then Singapore (Akash Mohapatra), then Bangalore (Alok Chandra), Kolkotta (Satish Dhall) and now Mumbai (Vijay Shukla). The alumni in each of these cities is slowly waking up.

This is a recent message received from the Mumbai Alumni:

The Reunion Dinner is being held on Friday, 5th February 2010 from 8.00 p.m. onwards at the Main Lawns, Willingdon Sports Club, Mumbai.

We take this opportunity with great pleasure to invite you and your spouse/partner for this function. We are confident that your evening would be delightful in our company.

We request you to kindly inform all those Stephanians who are in touch with you to be a part of this occasion.

Looking forward to meet you, your presence would be valuable.

Thank You.

Vijay Shukla

shuks10 @

All it takes is for a couple of Stephanians of any age to get together, and we have so many memories to share, so many PJs to exchange and chance for a real gup-shup! (I wonder if this language is still used in college?)

It is never ending source of delight to meet up or exchange notes with the alumni.

Standing: 2nd from left 61er Ashok (Tony) Jaitly, 6th from left 58er Rahul Bajaj, 8th from left me (a 63er) and far right, 63er Siddarth Singh.

Meeting 58er Rajya Sabha MP Rahul Bajaj, 61er former Commissioner of Jammu & Kashmir Ashok (Tony) Jaitly and 63er retired Ambassador Siddarth Singh during my recent visit to Delhi and then later, 62er retired Ambassador Niranjan Desai, 69er Integration Council Member John Dayal and then a whole host of past and present day Stephanians and staff in the College during the Founders' Day event (including the Bishop and the Principal - both of the Alumni), certainly was a most vitalising feeling.

I also met a lot of Stephanians in Kottayam when I attended the wedding of my nephew, Harsha Mathew, a Stephanian of recent era. Besides 61er Lt. Col. Jose Vallikappan (retd.), 62er Dr. Peter (Tubby) Philip, 63ers George Verghese and Abe Tharakan, 64er Mammen (Rajen) Mathew, 67er Philip Mathew, I met a whole host of younger Stephanians including Mariam (Anu) Mathew (née Paul), Rahul Mammen Mappillai, Amit Mathew, Riyad Mathew, Adit Mammen and his wife Deepshikha (also a sStephanian) who reside presently in Australia, Rohan Mammen, and many many more. Sadly in Bangalore I was only able to connect very briefly with 68er Arun Matthan.

The West Bengal Chapter of our Alumni has as its current President 64er Satish Dhall. The Governor of West Bengal is a Stephanian - 67er His Excellency Shri Gopal Krishna Gandhi. He hosted the Alumni Reunion at the Raj Bhavan on 21st November of last year. If I had known, I would have flown to Kolkotta to attend it as there are several Stephanians of my era there: 62er Rathikant Basu, 63er Sujit Bhattacharya and 64er Nirmal Jhalla - just to name a few! There are several in Kolkotta who have not yet connected with the Alumni Association there.

My hope is that Stephanians around the world who read this Web Version of Kooler Talk will use this forum to communicate to the almost 3000 regular Stephanian readers who check out here periodically. Please share your thoughts and ideas with me as I start to try to get together a plan to ensure that our alma mater is not pushed down the drain hole!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 06: Should I be agitated?

I was browsing around the College Web Site when I came across a page called "Kooler Talk" with a sign asking "Any takers"?

I promptly sent an email to the webmaster, which was given at the bottom of that page, pointing out the my Kooler Talk Web Version has been online for over a decade! I also pointed out that Ashok Jaitly has pointed this out prominently in his book on the History of the College.

St. Stephen's College: A History by Ashok (Tony) Jaitly (1958-1961).

Page 85 mentions the Online Kooler Talk - This ONE!

With 3000 Stephanians around the world checking in regularly on my Kooler Talk, I wonder whether it is a sort of ego problem for the webmaster of the College Site not to acknowledge this. He, and his predecessors, have been fully aware of my Kooler Talk for many years.

When I visited college at the end of last year, many staff and students paid rich compliments to my perseverance in keeping this alive for over a decade! They were all aware of it and most said that they enjoyed my nostalgic presentations. (Remember, I (Like Tony) was around when the original Kooler Talk was launched. Articles by me can be found in the first few publications.)

That email bounced, showing that nobody really looks after the whole site.

Another Kooler Talk without any purpose probably is an act of sabotage against my efforts. Why?

I resent the email to the email address on the main page of the college site - but it has not been acknowledged, as yet!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 05: Discovering alumnis

During te last few moths, when our alma mater has been suffering due to the behaviour of "grown" men and women, I have been looking out to see where our various alumni associations exist.

There was a close knit group of Stephanians in Singapore. I have lost touch with them of late.

Professor Sreenath Sreenivasan keeps his New York flock abreast of major developments.

Of late, I am glad to see that the Bangalore alumni have started to click together.

And just yesterday, I received news of the Mumbai alumni.

If you have news about other alumni groups, please forward them to me so that I can put them up, with their web pages, if available, and their contact email addresses on the web.

Without a strong and dedicated alumni, the college will continue on its wayward path.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 04: Dilemma! What do I do?

I was in this dilemma when I stated blogging in December 2004. I had one blog for all my different audiences. At that time I also had web pages devoted to different sectors of readers.

There was a clamour amongst my readers of the blog that I was out of tune with them as they were reading many items that they were not interested in as they pertained to my alma maters or something specific to Oulu, etc.

It was then I started breaking up my blogs - besides my primary Blog (Jacob's Blog), I started one on Politics, another related to my association with Cathedral School (Mumbai), another about St. Stephen's College (Delhi), another about finding goods and services in Oulu, etc.

Everybody was happy!

All went well till my recent trip to India, where I stopped all my auxiliary blogs and kept only my main blog going, with just a few very specific entries to my other blogs.

My readership shot up as it appeared that many were interested in all aspects of my trip around India - which I had termed as "Incredible India".

The readership more than doubled at one point. People were referring others to my blog and it just snow-balled into a massive readerfest. Old and young, relatives and friends, school and college mates, Findians, O-Indians, my professional colleagues, past and present, were all tuned in. And many strangers from around the world were liking my style!

Wherever I went I found I needed no introduction as people had been following my blog. As I recorded, at one stage it became highly embarrassing, as people would come up to me and ask whether I knew them!

On returning to Finland, I went back to my old system.

Now I am having a spate of complaints. Many say that I should only blog at one point.

That would be great for me but not fair on my diverse audience. For instance the Cathedral School Alumni Association have especially complimented me on my sustained effort to keep the school spirit at its height by my blogging.

That is definitely not possible as my Seventh Heaven and Kooler Talk Blogs have very specific readerships. And not everyone likes my Politics. To burden all my regular readers with MY political views would be unfair. And my Oulu Best (Worst) Buy Blog is very specific to my Oulu Readers. Who in India or USA wants to read about the price of eggs in Oulu?

Is there any single solution, which is outside my very limited knowledge, which will help keep all my readers happy?

One way is that you could become a "Follower" of a specific blog. Whenever the one you are interested is updated, you will get a message from Google. No infringement of your privacy. You can always stop the "Follower" program whenever you want.

That way, it would stop my having to post important blog entries on my multiple blogs. (Possibly - as I have not yet looked into the ramifications of this alternative.)

If you have any suggestions, please email me or leave me a COMMENT. (Although my blogs are not exactly "Comment" blogs, I do read all the comments and reply them appropriately - also knocking off the spam that does come in.

This entry is being posted on all my major blogs, as it concerns all my readers in all categories.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 03: Active alumni is important

It is so wonderful to read on Facebook about the very active alumni we have in Bangalore.

The Southern Stephanian Facebook Group is certainly getting their aim right. The Golf Tournament organised by them is pulling in many takers.

Well done, Southern Stephanians, but do also take up the issues which plague our alma mater these days.

Sreenath Sreenivasan, our talented professor, tech savvy journalist in New York, is certainly helping to keep that alumni faced in the right direction. I know we have a great bunch of guys in Singapore, but they have been out of touch for some time. Pressures of the global financial melt down?

It is only with a strong and active alumni around the world that we can drive our college back along the right track.

Above all we need an active alumni centre at home base in New Delhi.

Any Stephanians in Finland? After Professor Ajeet Mathur moved back to India and the Indian institute of Management in Ahmedabad, I am left as an alumni of 1!

And I am active!!! :-)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 02: Is this how we should be in the news?

I was a bit peeved when I read this in today's Delhi / Calcutta "The Telegraph": Minority education cell minus hands.

"Current St Stephen’s College principal Valson Thampu was first appointed the Christian member but was forced to quit amid controversy.

Is this how we want the alma mater to be remembered in the News Media?

Is this not what is the result of the washing dirty linen in public disregarding the consequences of such actions?

As you will recall, I analysed the character of Rev. Valsan Thampu at the outset many years ago and said that here was a person who had reached the limit as defined by the Peter Principle. My recent visit to the College for Founders' Day did not in any way result in the change of my opinion.

Not that his current adversary, the Bishop of North India, is any better.

Both of them, by their immaturity and childishness, have brought only shame to the work of the Church and our alma mater.

Is that what Our Lord intended?

Now this is what haunts the alma mater.

We should have professional management introduced and see that the College develops on all fronts and stays as the Number 1 institution of "education" in India.

I hope we can see better days soon.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

KTWV 11 issue 01: Integration Council members

I read today in the Indian Telegraph about the new "Minority boost to integration council".

Here are the names of people that may be on that council:

The Telegraph has learnt that the proposed names include those of Justice A.M. Ahmadi, Omar Abdullah, Salman Khurshid, Syed Shahabuddin, Asaduddin Owaisi, Shahid Lateef, Shabnam Hashmi, John Dayal, Ramdas M. Pai (president and chancellor, Manipal University), Valsan Thampu (St Stephen’s College principal), Roman Catholic Archbishop Vincent M.C. Concessao, Ratan Tata, Rahul Bajaj, N.R. Narayana Murthy and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.

Recognise some names in that list?

Shahid Lateef is the wife of 62er Stephanian Sarwar Lateef. John Dayal is a Stephanian, as also present Principal of the College, Rev. Valsan Thampu. Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament, Rahul Bajaj, is both a 58er Stephanian and also a 54er Cathedralite. Ratan Tata was a Cathedralite for a part of his education. I have not had the good fortune to meet him personally, although his younger brother, Jimmy, was a close friend and my hockey mate.

During my recent visit to Delhi I did meet John, Valsan and Rahul.

John broke protocol and came to see me the day I was leaving. He had just got back from Orissa and he came over that morning just to spend a few minutes over breakfast. And I did say a short prayer, holding hands with him, for his devoted work for the people of India. Maybe this is where I show him the meaning for that prayer.

I met Thambu at the St. Stephen's Founder's Day celebration on Monday 7th December, where I took part in the Holy Communion Service in the College Chapel, and then at the proceedings in the College Assembly Hall where former Indian President Abdul Kalam was the Chief Guest.

Sadly I do not see Valsan as a man with much vision at this moment of time. Hopefully God will lead him in the right direction if he gives up his ways of playing politics for power!

And Rahul paid me the greatest tribute by staying on a extra day in Delhi to be present at an event organised by Delhi Cathedrtalite to meet with Annikki and me. Having led an industry to the zenith, he now has a wondeful opportunity to show his fellow men that he has the vision to lead minorities to the centre of Indian society as equals.

Sadly, I did not learn till later that Sarwar and Shahid were in Delhi, as otherwise I would certainly have met up with this very dear couple. Shahid has always been at the forefront of the women's movement as well as a powerful spokesperson for uplifting of Muslim women.

I do hope this Council will stop beating about the bush and get a move on, not on the antiquated model of reservation of seats for the minorities in schools, colleges and jobs, but by uplifting the hearts and minds of these people labelled as minorities, into them thinking that they can compete on equal terms with the best of the world. They are not second class citizens of the world, so let us stop treating them as such.

You treat people as weak and they will be weak. You treat them as human beings and they can outstrip the very best.

Look at the fantastic performance of the black community in sports in the USA and UK (and also Kenya, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Canada, France, etc., etc.). They do not need to be treated as weak and powerless minorities. Given the right role models, they will bring in performances that are better than the best of their more fortunate brothers and sisters.

That itself is the tonic for success, not reservations, which is the sure tonic for failure!

I remember the words of my friend, former Ambassador Niranjan Desai, while we were having lunch together at the International Centre just a few weeks ago. He said that by treating the minorities as we do presently, we will not achieve any improvement in their standards.

I fully agree with his reasoning. This Integration Council should start looking at other ways to uplift the ethnic minorities in India than stupid and unrealistic reservation policies!

Recognise inherent cultural and ethnic talents. Build on successes. Do not force people into streams where they are doomed to fail.

In short, I hope this council will bring forward a new vision to the way we handle the integration of minorities into mainstream society!