Sunday, February 28, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 16: Welcome this new day, Holi 2010

When Annikki and I left for India in mid-October, we drove the 600 kms from Oulu to Helsinki. We had snow storms for much of the day, heralding the early, very early, advent of winter.

We do not know much about the time we were away in India, but when we got back we were right in what seemed to be mid-winter. (I lost my old SIM card in the snow in Helsinki airport! But I have got the uld mobile phone number back last week, so you can call me on that number again!)

But winter in Oulu has just continued and continued. We have had the longest spell ever where the temperature has remained well below zero. Some days have been exceptionally cold because of the strong winds. The snowfall right through winter has been heavy.

The Vesaisentie and Kampitie gardens are totally and completely snow covered, with only one small foot track, each, to the garages.

From 2010 Photos February

From 2010 Photos February

Our reindeer stands deeply immersed in thought and snow. Just like Annikki, who has been wondering when it will be "snowman snow" as I think she is contemplating another unusual creation, like her mobile snowman, before the grandkids arrrive by March end!

From 2010 Photos February

From 2010 Photos February

From 2010 Photos February

The snow formations on the ladders and fretwork are reallly beautiful. The aluminium door and frame are a grewat view from the kitchen window.

Today and tomorrow are celebrated as the festival of Holi. Holi is celebrated, in many countries around the world where we have a Hindu population, and also in Bangladesh, at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March), (Phalgun Purnima), which usually falls in the later part of February or March.

We certainly hope that this long hard winter in Finland, and which seems to be an unusual phenomena around the northern hemisphere this year, will draw to a close and the milder, warmer spring weather will be on us. (Friends in Dallas, Texas, reported snowstorms even at that latitude!)

Annikki and I would like to wish you a colourful and happy year ahead on this auspicious day.

(All these above photographs are by Annikki.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 15: Is this Christian?

The Bishop of the Church of North India (Chairperson of the Governing Body of our alma mater and also a member of the alumni) and the Principal of our College (also a mmember of our alumni) keep talking about upholding Christian morals and values.

The latest news as reported by he Kolkata Telegraph last Sunday "Leaked mails suggest Stephen’s foul play" makes me wonder how any of these two can go into a church and practice their "primary" profession, when all we see reported in the media is a lot of lying and hypocrisy!

New Delhi, Feb. 22: Private email correspondence between the current principal of Delhi’s St Stephen’s college and key insiders suggests that Valsan Thampu’s controversial selection as head of the prestigious institution in late 2008 was rigged.The correspondence suggests Thampu dictated the exact procedure for selecting the principal through a key member of the college’s highest decision-making body and the legal counsel for the St Stephen’s chairman.

He was also allowed access to secret college documents and plans in the lead up to the selection when he was one of the candidates and had no official position in the institution, the correspondence reveals.

The correspondence threatens to hurl St Stephen’s – one of India’s most prestigious colleges – into its biggest controversy ever, and is peppered with ugly references to the sharp divides that have brought embarrassment in recent times.

Where there is smoke there is surely a fire!

The recent petition being circulated amongst the alumni certainly draws one to believe that our alma mater is is state of decline on all fronts.

When will these people quit their desperate games to grasp power and money while our alnma mater rots?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 14: 2010 Doha Debate at St. Stephen's College in Photographs

(Sorry for the photograph quality as they are directly snapped from the TV!)

The Premises: Auditorium, St. Stephen's College, Delhi

The Moderator with the Panel

The Proposition: 'This House beleives Muslims are not getting a fair deal in India'.

The Moderator Tim Sebastian

The Speakers

Seena Mustafa

Sachin Pilot

Teesta Setalvad

M. J. Akbar

The Questioners


The Audience

The Vote

Saturday, February 20, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 13: Commonwealth Games and St. Stephen's College Residence?

Yesterday was an interesting article in India that Delhi University students had been asked to vacate their rooms for delegates for the Commonwealth Games Conference.

In a world which has been changing and modernising so rapidly, the face our college presents to the delegates who may live there will the the old squatting toilets, no running hot water, rooms which are unheated - in fact, the picture of a third rate residential accommodation.

Can we state that in these modern times we are looking after our students if they are being subjected to living standards of bygone ages?

Annikki took umbrage with the authorities who organised the Veterans Olympics in 1991 when our Indian delegation was humiliated by being given third rate accommodation is a school premises where they had to sleep on the floor, dormitory style, while participants from other countries got five star hotel treatment!

This is what she wrote in 1991:

Veterans Olympics in Finland
by Annikki Matthan

The World Veterans Athletic Championship which was held in Turku, South Finland a few years ago (1991), is cause enough to deny Finland the right to host any international sporting event in which third world participants may wish to take part. It would be best if intending participants from these countries are informed of the heartless treatment that is likely to be meted out to them if they choose to come to this country for international sporting events.

It would also be wise if the Olympic Athletics Committees of developing countries discussed the matter with the veteran athletes that took part in these games and made an official complaint to the International Olympic Athletics Committee. The International Committee should be requested to fully investigate their findings. The IOC, based on their independent conclusions, should take steps to deny any country that behaves inhumanely towards athletes, like Finland did, the right to host any international sporting event.

Finland - the most expensive country in the world

It is without doubt that Finland is one of the most expensive countries in Europe and probably the world. The proof is the hotel bill I paid (special summer reduced rate of Rs. 4000 for one night!) when I stayed at a three star hotel during my visit to Turku where I had gone to see the Championships.

In this expensive hotel, as in all the five, four and three star hotels in Turku, were the participants from the richer countries and officials from all the participating countries enjoying hearty five and six course nutritious buffet breakfasts of their choice (fruit juice, tea, coffee or milk, corn flakes, yoghurt, a wide variety of vegetarian salads, preserved fish and meat, bread, toast, or rolls with butter and jam, and finally a fresh fruit as a large juicy orange). They had just descended to the plush breakfast room from their beautiful and tastefully decorated hotel rooms (equipped with telephone, radio, television sets, private shower and bath) after their early morning gratis sauna and swim in the hotel pool. In fact, anything that their money could buy was available to these contestants from the richer countries.

What about the contestants from India and the financially poorer world countries taking part, whose athletes did not have pockets lined with gold. Where were they?

Rude shock

There was a rude shock when I visited the large contingent of men and women from different parts of India.

They had been crowded into a couple of school rooms with mattresses spread out on the floor, twenty or more to a room. There were not even the basic facilities like cupboards to keep their clothes and sporting equipment. They had to queue to use the common toilets facilities. There were not even proper food facilities in line with their limited financial means (Rs. 200 for a most unappetising meal). They had to pay extravagant amounts to get anything and even had to pay an exorbitant bus fare for the seven kilometre trip between the two stadiums where the meet was being held. They had paid extremely high fees to take part in the events and were even made to pay high charges for use of these rudimentary facilities. These poor cousins were herded and treated like animals and fleeced like goats.

The caretaker of the school, taking pity on these poorly looked after athletes, gave his personal cooker to the Indian participants to prepare their own food. The participants, instead of training and resting, had to scour the ultra-expensive Finnish supermarkets for cheap products like milk (Rs. 35 per litre), rice (Rs. 85 per kilo) and vegetables (Rs. 160 per kilo of tomatoes) to meet their basic dietary requirements. Meat eaters would have had to pay anywhere from Rs. 250 to Rs. 800 for a kilo - so that was best avoided. Fruits and other basic ingredients of a healthy diet were totally financially inaccessible to these athletes, many of whom have owed their long life to their strict dietary habits.

Less enterprising participants from the neighbouring socialist countries, who shared the same school premises with the Indians, were considerably worse off than the Indians. They took to selling their watches and cameras to the slightly better off participants so as to afford to live.

Was the Olympics between equals

Is any contest between the richer and poorer nations held under these conditions equal in any respect? What was the meaning of the Olympic Motto under which this sporting event was supposed to be Hosted in Finland?

Moaned one Indian participant who had taken part in the Asian Veterans Championships at Kuala Lumpur earlier that year - "The Malaysians looked after our every need and made us feel welcome. If the Finns came to take part in any event in India they would be properly hosted - not treated like this - worse than animals!!"

Indians show the way

It was indeed a great achievement that two over-nineties from India, despite these adverse conditions they were subjected too, dominated their age-group events and ran their way to glory capturing all the medals that they could lay their hands on.

Athletic ninety year Narayanamurthy from Bull Temple Road, Basavangudi, Bangalore, born on 12th December 1900, was indeed oblivious to the problems around him.

His colleagues shared their humble food and drink with the sprightly gentleman. Full of beans (metaphorically speaking only) he was!! He captured the hearts of the sparse audience as his sprinted away a full 50 metres ahead of his rival in the 200 metres, as indeed in all the events he took part in. He more than justified the trust placed in him by the Karnataka Chief Minister who had, in his personal capacity, given Narayanamurthy a helping hand to take part.

So also was the case with fit-as-a-fiddle ninety-nine year old Joginder Singh from Patiala in Punjab. Narayanamurthy and Joginder Singh certainly did India proud at this occasion.

Indian hospitality

What was even more surprising was that when we visited the Indian contingent, never having met a single one of them before, friendship and hospitality, even under the conditions that they had been forced into, oozed out of them. They made us at home on the three wooden stools that were available for them to be shared between the couple of hundred athletes that were staying in the school. Even with their meagre resources, some of the lady athletes from Kerala produced piping hot cups of coffee for us strangers who had landed in their midst.

This was a mark of good culture, upbringing and sportsmanship - not what my country, Finland, had forced on these eager contestants who had spent fortunes from their own pockets to come to this country to participate in this event.

Finnish mismanagement

Who was to blame for this shambles? Was it the Sports and Cultural Ministries of Finland who had obviously ignored the event. Was it the City of Turku who had not taken steps to ensure that the event was organised as defined by rules of fair competition in sporting events.

Or, was it the officials of these Third World Participating Committees who did not raise a single voice in protest at the inhumane conditions that their participants were forced to live with or the gross inequality of the contest? Was it that the officials from these countries were wined and dined by the Finnish organisers so that they would not raise any noise about the arrangements, or rather the lack of them?

Is it any surprise that the medals in the more contested age groups were shared among the richer countries which could pay their way to victory? Is this the spirit of the fair sporting competition or the Olympic Movement!!

No first aid for injured

The numerous organisers and officials visible everywhere at the athletics stadium sported expensive bright new green uniforms, were picked and dropped in expensive cars and vans, and ate breakfast, lunch and dinner, at the expense of the athletes, in posh restaurants and hotels, obviously taking care to host the Committee Members from the participating countries but ignoring the starving third world athletes.

However, when a 85 year old participant stumbled and fell two yards away from the finishing post, not a single games official was on hand to rush to his aid.

It was the oldest participant of the competition, 99 year old Indian, Joginder Singh, who was talking to us just at the moment, who rushed onto the track to lift up the poor injured participant. No first aid was even offered by the officials to the injured man who, crestfallen and bleeding at the nose, angrily hobbled away into the centre of the stadium.

Sensational journalism

What about Press, Radio and Television coverage of the event? This meet was virtually ignored by the Finnish Press, except for sensational journalism. The results of the penultimate day were not even reported in the leading Finnish papers. On the other hand, the Finns started off their own National Athletics Championships in Helsinki on the concluding day of this international event with massive press, radio and television coverage and totally ignored the large contingent of foreign athletes, numbering close to 5000, who had assembled in their country for the international event. A strange sign of hospitality indeed!!

Is this the correct cultural way to host and promote an event which is designed to enthuse middle-aged and elderly people around the world to live better lives by keeping up their activity level?

Is any contest between the richer and poorer nations held under these condition equal in any respect? What was the meaning of the Olympic Motto under which this sporting event was supposed to be Hosted in Finland?

Atlanta Olympics - July 1996

The Olympics in Atlanta, USA, will certainly be organised so that all contestants are treated equally and participants from the poorer nations are accorded the same hospitality rather than as shown by these indifferent and inhumane Finnish organisers, aided by officials from the poorer nations who only looked after their own interests rather than the interests of the people they represented.

All these amateur participants at future Veterans Olympics should be given the same level of hospitality by hosting countries. They are a finer example to the people of today than the commercialised superstars of the modern day Olympics who can well afford to pay for their comforts.

Now it is my turn to point out that India needs to wake up when hosting an international event like the Commonwealth Games and ensure that all the delegates get equal treatment!

I hope our College Authorities as well as the Indian Sports Authorities will take note of this!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 12: Golf in Bangalore

The Southern Stephanian Chapter of our alumni was involved in representing our college in Inter Public Schools Golf Tournament 2010 last weekend.

I wrote to Alok Chandra for the result, which was very promptly sent to me:

Hi All,

Results of the ‘Inter Public Schools Golf Tournament 2010’ held at the Karnataka Golf Association golf course on Friday 5th Feb were:

WINNERS ......Lawrence......306
RUNNERS UP......Stephen's......267
2nd RUNNERS UP......Doon......259
3rd RUNNERS UP ......Mayo......189


CATEGORY 3 (handicap 24 - 30)
WINNER ...........ASHOK RAO (OL)..................37

CATEGORY 2 (handicap 18 - 23)
WINNER ...........ALOK CHANDRA(STEPHENS)..........36

CATEGORY 1 (handicap upto 17)
WINNER ...........ALOK MALHOTRA (OL)..............37
RUNNERS UP........SANJEEV VOHRA (DOON)............34

WINNER...........SANJEEV MEHRA (DOON).............27

WINNER...........SALIL PUNOOSE (STEPHENS).........41

Some progress in the rankings for Lal Sitara!


Alok Chandra

Congratuations to Alok, Subir and Salil.

I will try to get the Bangalore Bishop Cottonians and Mumbai Cathedxralites to take part next year, so please give me some advance warning. Plenty of good players in both these alma maters of mine!

Monday, February 15, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 11: Doha Debate in College

The College is into some, hopefully better, press than we have been plagued with for almost three years.

The decision to hold the Doha Debate in the college premises has brought some positive news about our alma mater in the world's media.

The debate, which should be over by now as I write this on the evening of Monday 15th February, had as the topic "This House believes Muslims are not getting a fair deal in India"

Many of our alumni felt this was a very inappropriate topic for our College. As India has had two Presidents who were Muslims, the highest post in India, I think that there is much to be said against the topic. Also, as a person who has worked with ethnic minorities who are refugees in Finland, I think that the Muslims, and all ethnic minorities in India have had a better deal than the refugees that I have come across. I am not suggesting for a moment that they have a rosy and cushy time, but the longer we pamper the minorities, the longer will be the lack of integration into the mainstream.

Injustices should be removed. The legal system should be transparent. We should be a totally secular country in all respects. Let us hope that Doha Debate in our college has focussed on the pros and cons facing all minorities in india, not just the largest one - the Muslims!

Let us see when we view the edited version of the debate on 20th and 21st February on BBC World News TV Channel.

This was what was written in the online edition of

Speaking for the motion is Ms. Seema Mustafa, the Editor of Covert magazine. She has authored a number of books on Indian politics and in 1999 received the prestigious Prem Bhatia Award for Excellence in Political Reporting and Analysis for her coverage of the Kargil war.

With her is Ms. Teesta Setalvad, Civil rights activist and the co-founder of Sabrang Communications, an organisation aimed at protecting and promoting human rights in India. She has been at the forefront of the campaign for justice for the victims of the Gujarat riots and in 2003 she won the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award. In 2007 she was awarded the prestigious civilian honour, the Padma Shri by the Indian Government for her work in public affairs.

Against them is M.J.Akbar, distinguished journalist and Chairman and Director of Publications of Covert Magazine. He has launched and edited several publications in India including a new weekly publication The Sunday Guardian and served as a member of India’s Parliament from 1989-1992.

He is joined by the Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Sachin Pilot. Pilot made history in 2004 by becoming the youngest Member of Parliament when he was elected in Dausa, Rajasthan. He won by a record margin of over 120,000 votes.

The trip to St. Stephen’s College, one of India’s top-rated educational institutions, is a sign of the unique status of The Doha Debates as the leading forum for free speech in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
For more information of the broadcast visit the Doha Debate website

I will reserve my verdict about the Debate after I view it in its entirety. I found that one TV airing will be next Saturday at 11 am Finnish Time.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 10: Alumni coming together?

2009 Founders' Day Coffee Session after programme of speech
by Past Indian President Abdul Kalam.

I had an interesting email sent to me through the Southern Stephanian Society Alumni Group which operates out of Bangalore:

date 10 February 2010 11:49
subject Please read this.
mailing list

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Southern Stephanian Society" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at

That took me to a site which was called

Save St. Stephen's College
Yes We Can

which had the following text and links (Emphasis MINE.):

College is facing the greatest threat ever to its existence. The administrative and financial autonomy of the College is being undermined. Alumni and well-wishers have to put their heads together and intervene. It is important to have clear understanding of the turn of events which has led to the present crisis. A detailed note on the crisis facing College and other documents is posted on the web. An online petition appealing to the Chairman not to destabilize the institution is also in circulation. They can be accessed through the links provided.

  1. Note on the Crisis Facing Stephen's College
  2. Letter by 23 of the 45 permanent faculty expressing disapproval at the humiliation meted out to Mr. N Raghunathan
  3. Letter to VC
  4. Resolution passed by the Governing Body *
  5. Letter from the Chairman, Bishop Sunil Kumar Singh* asking for an inquiry into the dharna staged by some teachers
  6. Letter from the University of Delhi * stating its disapproval of appointing a Bursar in violation of university ordinance.
  7. Online petition appealing to the Bishop not to interfere and hijack the College:

Please go to the site to download and see the various documents.

Although I am glad that some members of our alumni are taking steps, preferably I would have liked to do it behind the scenes with each Alumni Group (New York, Kolkotta, Mumbai, Singapore, Bangalore, etc.) calling together its own Action Committee and then meeting at the national level with a strong uniform voice about what should happen in and with the college.

However, I am pleased that this has happened, as I have been calling for something on these lines for several years.

Our College is in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.

We should reclaim our College from all disruptive forces and help make the College a beacon for the education of tomorrow, not a hot bed for politics and fundamentalism.

The symbol of OUR UNITY -
The Blacksmith, the modern one (2009)!

I would like to state some of the obvious:

  1. We should have the finest faculty in all branches we intend to teach in our learned institution.
  2. We should have the brightest and best students in the College.
  3. We should have professional management to run the College, both the teaching, the education and the premises.
  4. We should optimise all the aspects of running an educational institution.
  5. We should modernise in keeping with similar institutions around the world.
  6. We should involve alumni who have experience in managing a national education institution.
  7. We should change our focus to handle the problems that face the India of tomorrow.
  8. We should stop the reservation policy for anybody which is only detrimental to all communities in the long run.

There are lot more ideas to offer to any Action Group, as I have seen how our small town of Oulu has a University, which is a Centre of Excellence in several fields, and is also run professionally. If we could do it in a city of just 120000 people, I see no reason why it cannot be done in our College!

Thank you guys for making this happen.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 09: Holy Spot missing

Those of you who remember our Holi celebrations will remember the muddy pond we used to create just outside the dining hall. It was a terrible state and we all revelved in it like 5 years´olds, dumping all our friends and enemies in that muck.

This last visit I made to college I noted that a barbed wire fence has been put up by the tap, so it would be too dangerous to follow this sport today.

Another change in our customs, but probably a welcome one, as not many liked being dunked in that foul water and muck!

Monday, February 01, 2010

KTWV 11 Issue 08: Passing away of Babloo Das

It is with great deal of sadness I have to inform you of the passing away of a young Stephanian, a former President of the college.

This is the information I received from the Southern Stephanian Alumni Group operating out of Bangalore:

We are sad to announce the passing away of Rajendra Das, known to many as Babloo, on 1 February 2010 at 3:42am in Bangalore . To celebrate his life, a memorial service will be held at the Indiranagar Methodist Church (13 main - 100 feet road crossing) on 6 February 2010 at 4pm. Kindly inform your friends and acquaintances who knew him.

Santona (Bulbul) : wife
Rajiv ( Gudu ) : son
Ishita Verma ( Baby ) : daughter
Dr. Shyam Verma : son-in-law
Sneha Das : daughter-in-law
Udit : grandson

Though I did not know Babloo, from what I have heard, he was a person dedicated to helping others in true Stephanian tradition.

We have conveyed our condolences to the family through the Southern Stephanian Group.

May his soul rest in peace.