Sanjay Ghose

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Sanjoy Ghose
Image file of Sanjoy Ghose.jpg
Sanjoy Ghose as he would have appeared in 1997
Born (1959-12-07)7 December 1959
Nagpur, Maharastra
Died 4 July 1997(1997-07-04)
Majuli, Assam
Nationality Indian
Other names JOY
Occupation Rural community health activist, development media
Known for Setting up Non Government Organisations working in North India

Sanjoy Ghose (Bengali: সঞ্জয় ঘোষ) (7 December 1959 – 4 July 1997) was an Indian rural development activist known for his pioneering contributions to community health and development media. He is believed to have been killed by United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) militants in the river island of Majuli on the Brahmaputra river around 4 July 1997.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Born in Nagpur, Ghose spent his formative years and his adolescence in Mumbai, Maharashtra. He belonged to a well known Bengali family.[1] Bhaskar Ghose, erstwhile Director General of Doordarshan, the Indian public television network, is his uncle. His aunts are Ruma Pal a former Supreme Court judge, Arundhati Ghose, former diplomat and India's permanent representative to the United Nations during the 1990s,[2] and the journalist Usha Rai.[3] He was educated at the Cathedral and John Connon School.[4] He was the president of his school wing of the Interact club: which is the Rotary International sponsored service club for young people aged 12 to 18.His experiences of social work, as a school boy, through the Interact club, changed his life priorities, and set the course for his life. [5] His father recalls, "As a school going boy he spent two nights in a Bombay (presently Mumbai) slum in torrential rain just to get a feel of the real problems that plague slums." [6] After school, he was educated at a liberal arts college, Elphinstone College located in Mumbai. Apart from graduating in rural development and law with college and university honours, he also edited the college magazine, ran the English literature club, and won University of Mumbai competitions for quizzing and debating. He was also active in the National Service Scheme – taking his fellow students to remote tribal villages in the hilly tracts abutting the Western Ghats in Thane district- to experience first hand the poverty and exploitation of the tribal communities. [7] [8]

In 1980, he chose to join the then unknown Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) in its very first batch. He had confirmed admissions to all the three then existing IIMs, ( Indian Institute of Management ) – Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta. Joining the prestigious IIM opened the way to very well paying corporate careers. He chose the then unknown IRMA over the known IIMs, in keeping with his personal commitment to work for the poorest of the poor.[9]

Dr.Srikanth Sambrani, the first director of IRMA, remembered the selection interview, in an Indian Express article, dated 12 August 1997, thus – "I first met him in 1980, when conducting admissions interviews for the Institute of Rural Management at Anand. We were highly impressed by his paper qualifications. He walked into our small room, all 5 ft 5 in of him held like the fearless bantam he undoubtedly was. But since he had applied to IIM Ahmedabad also, we thought we would lose him. We spent an hour discussing the relative merits of IIMA and IRMA. When he turned down IIMA, it was a coup for us."[10]

Career[edit]

After his post graduation with very good grades from IRMA, in 1982, he chose to work in a small rural development trust, Tribhuvandas Foundation, in Anand, Kheda district, over much more visible and better paying jobs with Government sponsored milk cooperative federations. In Tribhuvandas Foundation, he catalysed its growth from a small family run trust, to working in hundred odd villages, hiring professional rural medical doctors, and extension staff.

After two years with Tribhuvandas foundation, he won the INLAKs foundation scholarship for a MSc degree in economics from St Anne's College, Oxford in 1984.[11] After Oxford, he decided to return to rural India. He set up the URMUL Rural Health and Development Trust — in the desert district of Bikaner in Rajasthan.(1986). While working with URMUL, he won the Hubert Humphrey fellowship — and spent a year with the prestigious Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the year 1988–89. Working with the sick of the poorest of the poor, told on his personal health. He contracted tuberculosis, while collecting sputum for testing, from potential TB patients. After establishing URMUL Rural Health and Development Trust as a mainstream NGO in Rajasthan, he handed over the organisation to a successor, and shifted to Delhi. This was an unprecedented decision for Indian voluntary agencies — as the founders usually hang on to their leadership position till they die.

Sanjoy Ghose wrote extensively about his grassroot experiences with the URMUL Trust in Lunkaransar Village in Bikaner.[12] The Indian Express, a leading national daily, used his writings to launched a successful monthly column named 'Village Voice'. The "action experiment" of tapping the power of the mainstream middle class urban English media to reflect unheard rural voices spoken in local languages, grounded in very local realities, got a measure of success.

Recognizing the potential of writing in mainstream media to highlight rural development issues and catalyse change, Sanjoy conceived of CHARKHA. CHARKHA appears to have been initiated to exploit the legitimate opportunities available in the national media for influencing policies related to rural development. It also addressed the concern that such a massive task, required more support than his single voice. His discussions with senior media persons from the national dailies seemed to suggest that an organisation dedicated to development communication could work. CHARKHA in a sense was an attempt to "institutionalize" the success of the "Village voice" experience — and broaden the scope to bring in more writing talent and different geographies. On 24 October 1994, CHARKHA was formally initiated in New Delhi- with the goal of spinning action into words.Its formal vision is "To contribute towards building a harmonious, inclusive society empowered by knowledge."[13]

Sanjoy appeared to have been a firm believer in the philosophy of Reflective practice. He wrote and published extensively, analytic pieces on rural development- which would have incorporated insights from his own personal experiences as a catalyst for rural change .[14] The World Bank had also published one such paper.[15]

After launching CHARKHA, he decided to work in the insurgent prone Upper Assam, specifically in Majuli island on the Brahmaputra. His father recollected the family discussions around this decision. " When we were dissuading Sanjoy from going to the terrorism-ridden Assam", he replied, "then whose son will you send ?"[16]

Sanjoy Ghose with his team of social workers in Majuli island.

Through the sponsorship of Association of Voluntary Agencies for Rurul Development, North East (AVARD-NE) Sanjoy and seven colleagues set up base in Majuli island on the Brahmaputra river in April 1996. The island faced annual flooding and erosion of land. The island had shrunk by around 500 square kilometres in the last twenty years. Around February 1997, he and his team mobilised around 30,000 human days of voluntary labour (shram dhan). An experimental stretch of 1.7 kilometres of land was protected from erosion, by building embankments: using only local resources and their knowledge. The following year this protected stretch of the island survived the floods.[17] Sanjoy, in this short time, had also diversified the social activities in Majuli: around health (malaria prevention),livelihoods (design, and manufacturing of bamboo and woven products), and education (village libraries).

It appears that by doing so, Sanjoy and his group had displeased a powerful local Government works contractor lobby: which also provided patronage to the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). When posters were put up by presumably this contractor lobby, which would have lost its annual lucrative contracts for "flood protection": many locals participated in a public meeting on 1 June 1997, to express solidarity with the constructive work done. The local police offered Sanjoy protection, in view of the public threats issued by ULFA. Sanjoy however refused this, in tune with his personal beliefs that "local people are my best protection". ULFA abducted Sanjoy on 4 July 1997. [18] Some of Sanjoy's written work, was put together and was released as a book by Penguin Books in 1998: titled "Sanjoy's Assam: diaries and writings of Sanjoy Ghose" [19]

Death and legacy[edit]

A newspaper article in the Deccan Herald on 9 February 2009 claimed that "(Ghose) had been killed a day after he was abducted by ULFA cadres on July four, 1997, and his body, which was never found, was thrown into the swirling waters of the Brahmaputra. The killing,... was carried out by local cadre even before the top leadership could convey to them the message not to harm him to avoid possible international repercussions."[20] The Central Bureau of Investigation, which had been entrusted with the investigations, of the murder of Sanjoy Ghose, had filed chargesheets against 11 ULFA militants. [21] [22] [23] Arabinda Rajkhowa, the Chairman of ULFA, publicly apologised at Majuli for the killing of Sanjoy Ghose, as per news reports of June 2011. His widow, Mrs. Schumita Ghose, responded, "Only the Almighty has the power to forgive. I am just a human being and I want justice to be done."[24]

An international appeal for his release carried by the leftist magazine Economic and Political Weekly, summarised his work in Rajasthan and in media advocacy thus; "From 1986 to 1995 Sanjoy did pioneering work in western Rajasthan. He set up URMUL Trust in 1986 in Bikaner with the chief objective of empowering the local people to address their own development needs. By 1995, URMUL expanded into a network of organisations addressing the concerns of the poor in the districts of Bikaner, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer in western Rajasthan. Sanjoy wrote extensively and spiritedly on development issues. He was one of the firsts to realise the need for media advocacy for the NGOs and struggle-based groups, and established CHARKHA as an interface between NGOs and the mainstream media." .[25]

Sixteen years after his untimely demise, both his creations, URMUL Trust and CHARKHA continue to survive and grow in the "rural development sector" – URMUL and its affiliates in the desert districts of Rajasthan, and CHARKHA in the world of development media. CHARKHA has instituted the "Sanjoy Ghose Media Fellowships" in his memory. This has been awarded since 2003 in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, to encourage writers, particularly women, to generate research based writings that reflect their unique perspective on the concerns of their people in a region that has known conflicts for several decades now.[26]

In 2011, the award was targeted to women writers from the underdeveloped mountain region of Ladakh.[27]

The Ashoka: Innovators for the Public had instituted the Sanjoy Ghose Endowment in his memory in 1998 for "building a culture of volunteerism and a sense of citizen responsibility among the youth in India's northeastern state of Assam"[28]

The Sanjoy Ghose Memorial Trust Society was formed in the year 2000, in Majuli. The Trust has been holding memorial services every year on 4 July, the day of his disappearance and suspected death.[29] The Trust announced plans to launch an audio-video project on school documentation in Majuli on Ghose’s 15th memorial day on 4 July 2011:in a bid to carry on the social worker’s legacy. [30] A fictionalised biography on Sanjoy Ghose, written in the Assamese was published in 2008.[31]

A website in his memory was launched on the fifteenth "smriti divas" (remembrance day) on 4 July 2011 by this trust.[32]

His book, Sanjoy's Assam, has been used by the 2011 Indian anti-corruption movement, to initiate the anti corruption movement in Assam. [33] A bilingual film inspired by his life was made in Assamese and Hindi, which was directed by Bidyut Kotoky and produced by the National Film Development Corporation of India. The film was shot in Majuli and Mumbai.[34] The Assamese version, titled Ekhon Nedekha Nodir Xhipare, was released on 14 September 2012. The film won two awards for the Best Script and Best Actor at the second edition of the Washington DC South Asian Film Festival.[35] The Hindi version, titled As the River Flows, is yet to release.[36]

In 37 years Sanjoy Ghose had packed more into life than most people do in a hundred years or more. An article in the prominent political magazine Tehelka, described Sanjoy as "The man who saw tomorrow". It ran a feature on him with the title "Sanjoy Ghose was a dogged catalyst of change. And he paid the ultimate price for it". RN Haldipur, (former director of IRMA),who served on the Board of Tribhuvandas Foundation, when Sanjoy was working there, assessed him thus "Sanjoy was a positive and tenacious votary who functioned with single-minded purpose. Instead of joining the corporate sector, he took the hard path, full of difficulties and austerity. To him work was soul-satisfying worship. Transparent in his dealings, he was a man of great integrity." [37]

Education and career[edit]

  • Graduate from Elphinstone College, Mumbai, with specialisation in Rural Development and Law, 1997 -1980.
  • Post graduate degree in Rural Management from IRMA Institute of Rural Management in Anand, Gujarat, 1980–1982.
  • MSc in Agricultural Economics from St Anne's College, Oxford, United Kingdom with an Inlaks Scholarship.1984–85
  • Masters in Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, USA as a Hubert Humphrey Fellow.1988–89
  • Founder Secretary and Trustee, Urmul Rural Health Research & Development Trust, Rajasthan1986
  • Founder general secretary, Charkha, the Development Communications Network, New Delhi1994
  • Winner of the 1993 Sanskriti Award
  • general secretary, Association of Voluntary Agencies in Rural Development (AVARD), New Delhi
  • Team leader, AVARD North East

His mission in his own words "To change the world and make a difference in the lives of ordinary people".

Awards[edit]

Awarded All India Human Rights Association Manav Shri Puraskar award in the field of Journalism & Social Welfare, 1997–98.

Awarded Karmaveer Puraskaar posthumously for Lifelong Fight For Social Justice Through Citizen Action. 2011

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sanjay Ghose killing a mistake: Ulfa – Rift in outfit ahead of Feb. 10 peace talks". The Telegraph, Calcutta,India. 6 February 2011. Ghose, who was brought up in Mumbai and later settled in Delhi, was related to several among the Bengali who’s who. Former Doordarshan chief Bhaskar Ghose was an uncle, while former Supreme Court judge Ruma Pal and diplomat Arundhati Ghose were his aunts. 
  2. ^ "Terrorists, Human Rights and the United Nations". Satp.org. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Nava Thakuria (10 August 2010). "Kamala Saikia memorial lecture by Usha Rai". Assam Times. My nephew Sanjoy Ghose, a highly committed social activist, was killed by ULFA in 1997. I was then working with Hindustan Times and when he told me about how ULFA had threatened him if he did not back off from his work in Majuli Island and leave Assam, I decided to come for the meeting where the people of Majuli and the local leaders were to come out in a show of support for him. It was a tense meeting and despite efforts to break the meeting there was a solid show of support from the community he was working for. I wrote about this meeting and the threat to NGOs working in the North East in the hope that ULFA would be aware that the media was watching it. The story was front page anchor in Hindustan Times, Delhi. Buoyed by the support he received, Sanjoy decided to stay on and that was a mistake. The very next month he was abducted and killed.  Check date values in: |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  4. ^ Ajit, Chaudhuri (2007). "Sanjoy Ghose: Ten Years After". Network (Institute of Rural Management, Anand) 11 (2). Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Mirai, Chatterjee (2009). "Looking back, looking forward". The X-Cathedralite (The Cathedral and John Canoon School alumni): 16. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "Our Founder". http://www.charkha.org/. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  7. ^ Ghose, Sanjoy. "Two". Sanjoy's Assam: Dairies and Writings of Sanjoy Ghose ; Edited and with an Afterword by Sumita Ghose. New Delhi, India: Penguin Books India. p. 47,48. ISBN 0140278559. 
  8. ^ Sanjoy, Ghose (1998). "2". In Ghosh, Sumita. Sanjoy's Assam: Dairies and Writings of Sanjoy Ghose ; Edited and with an Afterword by Sumita Ghose. Penguin Books India. pp. 47, 48. ISBN 9780140278552. 
  9. ^ Sanjoy, Ghose (1998). "2". In Ghosh, Sumita. Sanjoy's Assam: Dairies and Writings of Sanjoy Ghose ; Edited and with an Afterword by Sumita Ghose. Penguin Books India. p. 52. ISBN 9780140278552. 
  10. ^ "Sanjoy Ghose: Joy and outrage". Expressindia.com. 12 August 1997. Retrieved 27 September 2010. 
  11. ^ "OBITUARIES- St.Anne's college". 15 January 1998. Retrieved 7 December 2012. SANJOY GHOSE; MSc student 1984–5. Aged 39. 
  12. ^ Ghose, Sanjoy (1995). "Settlement in the Indira Gandhi canal command: a new perspective". Land Reforms in India (Sage Publications): 176–182. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  13. ^ "Genesis". Charkha.org. 24 October 1994. Retrieved 27 September 2010. 
  14. ^ Ghose, Sanjoy (1995). Voices from the Field: A Symposium on People's Experiences with the Development Process. Singh. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  15. ^ Nagle, William; Ghose, Sanjoy (1990). Community Participation in World Bank Supported Projects Issue 8 of Strategic planning and review discussion paper. World Bank Strategic Planning and Review Department, Policy Research and External Affairs,. p. 28. 
  16. ^ Sangeeta Singh (17 September 2007). "Shankar Ghose He is passionate about connecting the poor with mainstream media". Live Mint and Wall Street Journal. He speaks passionately about Charkha’s activities, and about his son, even as his tea gets cold. It isn’t an easy conversation. The pain of talking about Sanjoy in the past tense, and the persistent guilt that he could not stop him from going to the North-East are palpable. Charkha’s website describes Ghose trying to dissuade his son from visiting Assam only for Sanjoy to ask: “Then, whose son will you send?”. 
  17. ^ Chetna Verma (4 July 2012). "Majuli remembers Sanjoy Ghose a decade and half later". ANI News. The turning point came in February 1997, when more than 30,000-man-days of labour were volunteered by the community, and an experimental stretch of 1.7 kilometers was protected from erosion using local wisdom and resources. The following year, this protected stretch of the island survived the floods, raising hopes and sending ripples of triumph through the people. 
  18. ^ Deepti Priya Mehrotra (29 January 2005). "The man who saw tomorrow". Tehelka. The group mobilised people to build embankments: local people contributed 30,000 person-days of labour to protect an experimental stretch of 1.7 km of the island’s banks. In doing so, they displeased a powerful contractor lobby that provided patronage to ulfa .When posters came up asking avard-ne to leave Assam, many locals participated in a public meeting in solidarity with the constructive work being done. This was on June 1, 1997. The group had already engaged in flood relief and malaria prevention, design and production of weaving and bamboo crafts; it had also set up village libraries. The police offered him protection but Sanjoy refused, saying people were his protection. Soon after, he was abducted. Sanjoy vanished. 
  19. ^ Ghose, Sanjoy. Sanjoy's Assam: diaries and writings of Sanjoy Ghose (first ed.). Delhi: Penguin Books. ISBN 9780140278552. 
  20. ^ "How Sanjoy Ghose exactly died? « Utpal Borpujari". Utpalborpujari.wordpress.com. 9 February 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2010. 
  21. ^ "CBI may take Ulfa cadre in remand". Times of India. Nove.28, 2011. The central agency, after investigation, had filed chargesheets against 11 Ulfa militants, namely Ulfa C-in-C Paresh Boruah, Phatik Hatimota, Siraj Boruah, Arun Boruah, Mridul Hazarika, Amrit Dutta, Babu Saikia, Phani Neog, Kania Hazarika, Pradip Boruah and Anjan Boruah. Among them Siraj, Arun, Mridul, Amrit and Babu were killed in encounter and Phani and Kania are now in jail.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  22. ^ Samudra Gupta Kashyap (26 November 2011). "anjoy Ghose murder accused arrested". The Indian Express. Hatimota was among 11 ULFA militants named in a CBI chargesheet filed before the special court here on June 16, 1999.Ghose, secretary of well-known NGO called AVARD-NE, was working on a rural development project in Majuli island for a couple of years when he apparently invited the wrath of a militant-contractor nexus that was allegedly involved in siphoning off funds meant for developmental works in the river island. 
  23. ^ "Ulfa man in cop custody – Sanjoy Ghose murder accused produced in court". The Telegraph, Calcutta,India. 27 November 2011. Hatimota is among 11 Ulfa militants, including the outfit’s commander-in-chief Paresh Barua, who were convicted in the Sanjoy Ghose abduction and killing case. The CBI, which probed the killing of the social worker in 1997, had filed chargesheets against 11 cadres of the outfit. 
  24. ^ SUDIPTA BHATTACHARJEE (9 June 2011). "THE PRICE OF PARDON -saying sorry". The Telegraph, Calcutta, India. Two days later, its chairman, Arabinda Rajkhowa, publicly apologized at Majuli for the killing of the social worker, Sanjoy Ghose, in 1997. While an apology is the key to healing wounds and injustices, what distinguishes the Ulfa’s apologies from those of other leaders is the unavoidable question mark that looms over the genuineness of the gesture...This is precisely what Sanjoy Ghose’s widow, Sumita, once a student of conflict transformation, said when contacted: “Only the Almighty has the power to forgive. I am just a human being and I want justice to be done.” 
  25. ^ letters (1997). "Appeal For Release of Sanjoy Ghose". Economic and Political Weekly (Sameeksha Trust). XXXII (28 July 12, 1997). Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  26. ^ "Media Fellowships". Charkha.org. Retrieved 27 September 2010. 
  27. ^ News Desk (6 December 2011). "Victim of ULFA, Sanjoy Ghose’s anniversary to be celebrated tomorrow". truthdive. The Charkha Development Communication Network will felicitate writers from Ladakh with "Sanjoy Ghose Ladakh Women Writers Awards" announced for the region in October 2011 on the occasion of its Founder’s Day function on Wednesday. 
  28. ^ "Ashoka's Endowments | Ashoka — Innovators for the Public". Ashoka. 4 July 1997. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  29. ^ "Project to carry on legacy". The Telegraph, Calcutta, India. 1 July 2011. The Sanjoy Ghose Memorial Trust Society will launch an audio-video project on school documentation in Majuli on Ghose’s 15th memorial day on July 4, in a bid to carry on the social worker’s legacy. 
  30. ^ PULLOCK DUTTA (1 July 2011). "Project to carry on legacy". The Telegraph, Calcutta, India. The Sanjoy Ghose Memorial Trust Society will launch an audio-video project on school documentation in Majuli on Ghose’s 15th memorial day on July 4, in a bid to carry on the social worker’s legacy. CCTV cameras will be installed at educational institutions in the island and subsequently data would be collected which, the Society feels, will help to improve the education scenario in the island. "We are getting support from the satradhikars and social workers in Majuli to carry on with the project. We are also in touch with the government,” the secretary of the Society, Kishori Mohan Paul, told this correspondent today. Paul said the data would include the methods of teaching by teachers, the student-teacher relationship and the discipline maintained in institutions. There are nearly 800 education institutions in Majuli, of which seven are colleges. 
  31. ^ Khāuṇḍa, Gobina Kumāra. Mājulīraparā mai Sañjaẏa Ghoshe kaichon̐ (in Assamese) (2008 ed.). Pāhi Prakāśana. 
  32. ^ Correspondent (5 July 2011). "Website on Sanjoy Ghose launched". The Assam tribune. A website containing information about Sanjoy Ghose, the team leader of Association of Voluntary Agencies in Rural Development NE, who was killed by the activists of ULFA 15 years ago while working in Majuli, was launched today on the 15th Smriti Divas of the slain social activist at Kamalabari, Majuli. 
  33. ^ "Jorhat joins Hazare crusade". The Telegraph, Calcutta, India. 10 April 2011. Advocate Rintu Goswami stated that the book Sanjoy’s Assam: Diaries and writings of Sanjoy Ghose explicitly depict the kind of corruption he was fighting against on the river island of Majuli before Ulfa killed him. 
  34. ^ Gaurav Das (12 September 2012). "Film on futility of violence to hit screens soon". Times of India. The film also focuses on the futility of violence and is inspired by the life of activist Sanjoy Ghose, who was killed by Ulfa in 1997 in Majuli. 
  35. ^ "Assamese film bags awards at US fest". Times of India. May 15, 2013. Bidyut Kotoky's Ekhon Nedekha Nodir Xhipare bagged two awards for the Best Script and Best Actor at the second edition of the Washington DC South Asian Film Festival...The film stars Bollywood actor Sanjay Suriin the lead role, who won in the Best Actor Award for his portrayal of a journalist who comes to insurgency-hit Assam in search of his friend, a social activist, who goes missing under mysterious conditions. The film is loosely based on the mysterious disappearance of Sanjay Ghose, a social activist, now presumed dead. 
  36. ^ "Bidyut Kotoky’s "Akhon Nedekha Nodir Sipare" releases on Friday". Dear Cinema. 14 September 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  37. ^ Deepti Priya Mehrotra (29 January 2005). "The man who saw tomorrow". Tehelka. Sanjoy Ghose was a dogged catalyst of change. And he paid the ultimate price for it 

External links[edit]