BARAMATI 5: Blunt-speak, about Indian agricultur(e), from the planner’s perspective

Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia — the deputy chairman of the Indian Planning Commission, sometimes called by his critics as the World Bank/IMF’s man in New Delhi — threw some hard challenges to the 6th annual Baramati Initiative on ICT & Development, currently underway in this central Indian location, in the heart of rural India. If you thought e-agriculture just meant getting in computers, sticking in a pipe (to the internet) and working out some magic, then you’ve overlooked a lot, said Dr Ahluwalia. He termed IT (information technology) one of those “defining technologies” that bring about a drastic change. “It’s … Continue reading BARAMATI 5: Blunt-speak, about Indian agricultur(e), from the planner’s perspective

Visiting cards in my pocket…

Because of the unseasonal rains (which lashed central India after midnight, accompanied by lightning and power failures) most of the participants at Baramati VI [1] arrived late at the venue. At the dinner table, at starting time, there were just three other participants who had flown in from abroad, via Mumbai. Frida Youssel, a Lebanese lady based in Geneva, is coordinator for UNCTAD (the UN’s Conference on Trade and Development) [2] finance and risk management commodities branch. We shared ideas on Lebanon’s senseless civil war, its site to keep villages in touch with the outside world including the large number … Continue reading Visiting cards in my pocket…

BARAMATI 3: The setting: in the heart of rural, central India

Vidya Prathisthan is an educational campus built in the middle of rural India, amidst some barren terrain and in the midst of what used to be desolate villages areas. It aims to be “an institution in which knowledge resides as the most ineresting building block”, as organisers of the organising panel put it. “In 1992, (prominent Indian politician who’s often credited with this success story) Sharad Pawar dared to dream of translating 128 acres of barren land into a prominent centre of education. We’re always aimed at taking technology to the grassroots of society. VIIT (Vidya Pratishthan’s Institute of Informatoin … Continue reading BARAMATI 3: The setting: in the heart of rural, central India

BARAMATI 2: Rain gods in charge…

“All flights are delayed by two hours,” the director of the VIIT announced to volunteers, and the mood sunk. Even the Baramati skies appear overcast. Earlier, while I sat through a sandlewood-paste flavoured beard-trim (Rs 15) at the local roadside makeshift haircutting saloon, the TV spoke of rainy weather warnings. That means a delay in getting started. But the hosts here are hospitable to a fault. I don’t know what it is, but have often encountered the hospitality of our neighbouring states, though often, like “good neighbours” huge Maharashtra and tiny Goa also have our tiffs over political and other … Continue reading BARAMATI 2: Rain gods in charge…

Baramati 10:29 March 9, 2006

I’ve lost all sense of time, but my mobile phone (which fortunately works 800 kms away from home) tells me it’s 10:29 am on March 9, 2006. Have reached Baramati… after many years. Later today, the 6th Annual Baramati Initiative on ICT and Development (focussing on The Potential of e-Agriculture) gets underway at this rural, but education-oriented island two hours away from Pune in Central India. On reaching, I couldn’t recognise the place. It has been a return to Baramati after five (or is it six?) years. The place has greened in the meanwhile… while this diarist has greyed 😉 … Continue reading Baramati 10:29 March 9, 2006


Given his energy levels and zest for life, you wouldn’t guess Victor Rangel-Ribeiro is an octogenarian. If he’s not mentoring young writers and egging them on, he’s spending long hours perfecting sheaves of manuscript pages or taking a keen interest in his love of music.

Born in 1925 in the village of Porvorim, he lived his life in the shadow of his father, who, he says, could do almost anything not just well but with panache. Victor Rangel-Ribeiro has had two careers — one first in Bombay, and the second in the United States. And they have encompassed several fields.

In education, he was a high school teacher in Mumbai, and in New York a teacher of illiterates, a teacher of the poor and disadvantaged both young and old, a teacher of university students, and for a very short time a “teacher of pampered teenagers whose parents were so rich they did not give a damn about getting a good education”.

As a journalist, he has been a reporter, subeditor, and assistant editor in Mumbai, and has then written for the New York papers as well. In advertising, he became the first Indian to be copy chief with J. Walter Thompson Co. in Mumbai, and was also the first Indian to be copy chief with a very small advertising agency in New York. Continue reading “BrieFNcounters: GOA’S WRITERS ARE MULTICULTURAL BY INHERITANCE”


Good Morning Mansoorpur! Sunday Times of India carried this half-page story titled ‘Good Morning Mansoorpur‘ in it’s today’s issue (March 5, 2006). It’s subtitle says it all: “In a Bihar village, one man runs a radio station from a repair shop. It’s social, entertaining and probably illegal too, Alok Mishra reports.” The photo shows villagers in Mansoorpur listen to the radio station, and Raghav Mahato in front of his repair shop, which is also his FM station. Couldn’t locate the story online. But there were some other interesting links. BBC carried this story some time back, and had it titled … Continue reading 114159690287385316