Sunday, Mar 07, 2021 09:15 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Mar 07, 2021 03:43 [IST]

The Importance of Questioning

Mrinal Chatterjee

Window Seat
Questioning has two primary purposes: exploration and dissention. The first leads to pushing the boundary of our existing knowledge. The second leads to a disruption in the status quo.
Exploration has been (and still is) the key to the survival and progress of all living beings. Human civilization grew as the first Homo-sapiens moved away from Africa about 70,000 to 1,00,000 years ago to explore other places- thousands of miles away. Progress of human civilization has been the result of one exploration after the other; each one began with one or several sets of questions. Every exploration has two trigger points: necessity and curiosity.
Curiosity led to gathering information and deep thinking, which remained the two major ways to gain knowledge. It developed into two different streams: science and philosophy. Science mostly engages with the physical world, philosophy metaphysical. Human beings were curious to know if they can fly like the birds, swim underwater like the fish and other sea-animals do. They explored the science behind it and invented airplane and submarine. Science took care of the understanding the principle part and technology the practical application. Human being also wanted to know where they came from, where would they go after death, who created the universe, and why? They developed philosophical treatise. Thus questioning is the trigger of all knowledge.
The second purpose in which questioning can be used is to show dissent, which might lead to a dialogue and/or disruption in the status quo. Dialogue is the soul of democracy. People must have an opportunity to express their dissent to the ruling class or the government or the State; and the State in turn must address their dissent, not suppress it. That is ‘rajdharma’. If dissent is considered as sedition, then it is not democracy. Questions can restraint misuse of power. It can act as a deterrent to exercise of excessive power. It can be an effective tool in ensuring functioning of a healthy democracy.    
Raza at 100
Sayed Haider Raza, considered one of the most prominent and respected Indian painters of his generation would have turned 100 this year. His contribution to the modern Indian fine art is to infuse in it the quintessential Indian ethos.
Born in Kakkaiya, Mandla district in present day Madhya Pradesh, Raza studied art from an early age, before moving to France in 1950 to study at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. After studying in Paris, Raza continued to travel throughout Europe, exhibiting his work. Raza was a co-founder of the revolutionary Bombay Progressive Artists' Group (PAG) along with Indian artists Krishna Hawlaji Ara (1914–1985) and Francis Newton Souza (1924–2002). This movement sought to turn away from the influences of European Realism—which dominated much of the academic art of India—and embrace Antar gyan , a uniquly-Indian inner vision.
Raza was awarded Padma Vibhushan the second highest civilian award of our country in 2013. He was also the recipient of Commandeur de la Legion d’honneur (Legion of Honour) in 2015.
I have been an ardent admirer of Raza. I got a print of his serigraph framed (see photo) and put up at the academic block of the Eastern India campus of Indian Institute of Mass Communication located at Dhenkanal, Odisha.
Food Warriors
We have been hearing about different kinds of warriors these days- from Covid warriors to Gou-warriors. All warriors are fighting something or the other for national interest.
But alas, nobody talks about the Food Warriors, mostly the street side vendors of fast food who have raised a war against the Chinese dominance. My friend J P Jagdev first noticed the humble food warriors in Bhubaneswar and wrote a short piece on them in his social media post.  “Om Sai Momo centre  serving chicken tandoori momos should be considered as the most effective surgical strike on Chienese soft power.
However, like always a small battale erupted over the history of the food warriors. Somebody commented: the surgical strike started in Calcutta with Maa Kali Chowmein Centre in the late 1970s. However, the Chinese migrants of Tangra saw it as cultural amalgamation.
Some street food vendors are true food warriors. However, the way they are appropriating and indianising the recipes of food items across the world- we might even be termed as food imperialists.
Tail piece: Fan
Sign in front of an electric goods shop:
If you do not have a fan…
Take one from here.
***
(Anthology of this weekly column published in 2020 has been published in book form. Should you want a free e-copy of it, please write a mail to mrinalchatterjeeiimc@gmail.com)

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi