Sunday, 1 January 2017


To repeat the cliché, yet another year has come and gone, bringing me closer to the inevitable day (or night). But that process begins as soon as one is born, doesn’t it? That’s why Swami Vivekananda had said, “তুমি জন্ম হইতে মায়ের নিকট বলি প্রদত্ত” (You are at the sacrificial altar of the mother as soon as you are born). I remember, we were going to a picnic on 1st January 1963, and the friend whose car we were driving in remarked while buying petrol remarked about the date. Seems like just yesterday.

Aw, what the hell, old men will muse and ruminate over the past. Now I am alive and kicking – that’s what matters. Now let’s look at 2016. What kind of a year was it?

Not a particularly eventful year. Firmly ensconced as Governor of Tripura, did a short stint of double duty as Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, June-July 2016 when the regular Governor, J.P.Rajkhowa had fallen ill. That short stint, incidentally, was very eventful. When I was sworn in the Chief Minister was Kalikho Pul, a BJP ally. Then a Supreme Court judgment restored the previous Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, a Congress ally, to the post, replacing Kalikho. But I got a signed sheet from some 40 MLAs saying they don’t support Nabam. So I told Nabam to seek the confidence of the Assembly immediately. He expressed his displeasure and left. Next day he came back smiling, saying that not he, but Pema Khandu was to be sworn in as Chief Minister as a Congress ally. In support he submitted a similar sheet containing signatures of MLAs expressing support.  So I got the signatures verified and swore in Pema, and he won the confidence of the Assembly also in due course. At this stage Rajkhowa came back, I was relieved, breathed a sigh of relief and came back to Agartala.

The subsequent events, though no concern of mine, were equally interesting, and tragic as well. Rajkhowa was told to resign as Governor, and when he refused to do so, he was sacked. Then Kalikho Pul committed SUICIDE by hanging himself! Then Pema Khandu switched sides with all his supporters and became a BJP ally. The latest is that another person laid his claim to the Chief Minister’s chair, but Pema beat him to it and has now become a BJP Chief Minister.

So much for Arunachal politics. Compared to this Tripura is cakewalk.

 No trips abroad this year. Customary yearly trip to visit daughters in USA did not take place as the daughters themselves visited Agartala. Two aborted trips to Bangladesh – one in August, due to address the Institution of Engineers (Bangladesh) at Dhaka, cancelled following the massacre at the Holey Artisan Bakery ; and the second one to my mother’s birthplace of the village of Kalikachchha, District Brahmanbaria, canceled because the Ministry of External Affairs, in its wisdom, thought it was not important enough for the Governor to visit.

The real highlight of the year was the completion, publication and release of the book “যা ছিল আমার দেশ” in Bengali, meaning “What was once my country”, describing the exodus of Hindus and other minorities from East Pakistan and Bangladesh. This is an updated Bengali version (and not a line-by-line translation) of my earlier book in English,  titled “My People, Uprooted: The Exodus of Hindus from East Pakistan and Bangladesh” of which the third edition was published earlier in the year. The publisher of the English version is Synergy Books India of Delhi and that of the Bengali is Mitra & Ghosh of Kolkata. Synergy is a small-time publisher (although they have done a good job of the book) while Mitra & Ghosh are the second biggest in Kolkata, and quite big, by Bengali standards. The Bengali book is also very well produced, with a lot of photographs. It was released twice, once at Kolkata Raj Bhavan by Kesri Nath Tripathi, Governor of West Bengal and again at Agartala. It is said to be selling very well.

I got a couple of Honoris Causa Doctorate Degrees this year. The first, Doctor of Letters, from a private University called Shri Jagdishprasad Jhabarmal Tibrewala University, Vidyanagari, Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan; and the second, Doctor of Engineering, from National Institute of Technology, Agartala.

This year I also, along with my wife, got a Mantra-Deeksha from Swami Prabhanandaji Maharaj of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission.

On the family front things are on the whole satisfactory. By the grace of God my daughters and their families are doing well. I am also fine, though still considerably overweight. My brothers, so far as I get to see and know about them, are also fine. My wife is okay, on the whole. My chhordi, cousin sister, who holds our family together, is a sprightly 82.

My elder daughter Malini, her husband Dr Kiran Rao, and my grandchildren Surya (10) and Uma (5) visited us across the New Year. I am partial to Surya and feel a little guilty about it -- Uma is a delightful and very bright little girl. Surya is growing up to be a thinking person and sometimes says that are quite profound for his age. They stayed for just five days, and those days were unmitigated bliss. Oh, how I miss them!

Life in Tripura is humdrum, largely drudgery. After finishing the Bengali book I have resumed writing my Memoirs. I also do some subdued tweeting. I visit Kolkata about twice in a month where I get called as the only Bengali-speaking Governor of the country. The new Raj Bhavan is getting ready and I look forward to moving in there sometime late in 2017.

The currency demonetization made huge news, but made no more than a ripple in Tripura. I had occasion to go to the temple town of Udaipur, and asked the person who was serving us tea -- a tea-stall owner presumably -- as to how he was affected. He said they hardly saw 500 or 1000-Rupee notes, dealt mostly in 100-Rupees and less, and were only marginally affected.

That’s it, for this year. See you on 31st December 2017.

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