“To become a true global citizen, one must abandon all notions of ‘otherness’ and instead embrace ‘togetherness’.“
― Suzy Kassem (American writer, film director, philosopher, author, and poet of Egyptian heritage.)
Internet technology helps us stay connected with people living anywhere around the world, but the ability to speak face-to-face with ease has declined and, in fact, is dysfunctional severing kinship and physical interaction with those around us.
Now, with mobiles, people have replaced lively phone calls by texting mnemonic-like nonsensical internet slang words with little substance oblivious to what is happening around them. This indeed is an alarming trend.
This video shows how some simple actions can provide the impetus to bring about the joy in togetherness.
Today, November 14th, India celebrates Children’s Day. I wish all children in India “A Happy Children’s Day!”
In 2009, Google India launched the Doodle4Google competition. It is an invitation for students from grades 1to 10 to design the Google Doodle to celebrate Children’s Day in India. The theme for this year’s competition was “A place in India I wish to visit”. Google received over one million entries from more than 1700 schools across 50 cities in India.
Google India announced Vaidehi Reddy as the winner of this year’s Doodle4Google design contest. She was honoured at an event in New Delhi on November 12, 2014.
The above winning Doodle titled “Natural and Cultural Paradise – Assam” went live on the Google (India) home page today, November 14, Children’s Day.
On this Children’s day, India remembers and honours the country’s first Prime Minister Shri Jawaharlal Nehru born in 1889. The children of India fondly called him “Chacha Nehru” (Hindi: चाचा नेहरू)) or Uncle Nehru.
Jawaharlal Nehru always emphasized the importance of showering love and affection on children. He saw in them the future of India.
On December 3, 1949, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote a lovely letter to the children of India. Here are some excerpts from it:
“I like being with children and talking to them and, even more, playing with them. For the moment I forget that I am terribly old and it is very long ago since I was a child.”
“Can you recognise the flowers by their names and the birds by their singing? How easy it is to make friends with them and with everything in nature, if you go to them affectionately and with friendship. You must have read many fairy tales and stories of long ago. But the world itself is the greatest fairy tale and story of adventure that was ever written.”
“Grown-ups have a strange way of putting themselves in compartments and groups. They build barriers… of religion, caste, colour, party, nation, province, language, customs and of rich and poor. Fortunately, children do not know much about these barriers, which separate. They play and work with each other and it is only when they grow up that they begin to learn about these barriers from their elders.”
“Some months ago, the children of Japan wrote to me and asked me to send them an elephant. I sent them a beautiful elephant on behalf of the children of India… This noble animal became a symbol of India to them and a link between them and the children of India.”
“You know we had a very great man amongst us. He was called Mahatma Gandhi. But we used to call him affectionately Bapuji. He was wise, but he did not show off his wisdom. He was simple and childlike in many ways and he loved children… he taught us to face the world cheerfully and with laughter.”
When the news about Anandi’s plans to study medicine in America spread, orthodox Hindus censured her. Anandi addressed the Hindu community at the Serampore College Hall, in Serampore Town. She explained her decision to go to America and obtain a degree in medicine. She stressed the need for Hindu female doctors in India. She told the assembly the persecution she and her husband had endured. She spoke to them about her goal of opening a medical college for women in India. She also pledged that she would not relinquish her religion and convert to Christianity.
Anandi’s speech at the Serampore College Hall received wide publicity. Financial contributions started coming in from all over India. The Viceroy of India contributed 200 rupees to a fund for her education.
On April 17, 1883, Anandi sailed from Calcutta (now Kolkata) to New York chaperoned by two female acquaintances of the Thorborns.
Mrs. Carpenter received Anandi in New York in June 1883. The Carpenter family treated her as a member of the family throughout her stay in America. Mrs. Carpenter arranged Anandi’s admission to the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Here is an extract from Anandi’s letter of application to the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania:
“[The] determination which has brought me to your country against the combined opposition of my friends and caste ought to go a long way towards helping me to carry out the purpose for which I came, i.e. is to to render to my poor suffering country women the true medical aid they so sadly stand in need of and which they would rather die than accept at the hands of a male physician. The voice of humanity is with me and I must not fail. My soul is moved to help the many who cannot help themselves.”
Anandi’s courage, conviction and her earnestness to study medicine against all odds impressed Rachel Littler Bodley, the dean of the college. The college offered Anandi a scholarship of US$ 600 per month for three years. She chose the topic “Obstetrics among the Aryan Hindoos” for her specialization.
In America, Anandi remained austere and simple. Her lifestyle did not change and she continued to wear the typical 9-yard Maharashtrian saree.
Her declining health worsened because of the cold weather and unfamiliar diet.
After Anandi’s departure, Gopalrao felt dejected and depressed. He quarrelled with his superior frequently. Eventually, he resigned his job as a postal clerk. He then decided to go to America. Since he did not have enough money to pay for a ticket to America, he purchased a ticket up to Rangoon. There he worked for some time as a porter in the docks. After earning enough money he sailed to America.
Anandi was overjoyed when her husband joined her in Philadelphia after about three years. By that time, she had completed her medical course and passed out obtaining a First Class MD degree. During the Convocation held on March 11, 1886, Anandi received a standing ovation when the president of the College said:
“I am proud to say that today should be recorded in golden letters in the annals of this college. We have the first Indian woman who is honoring this college by acquiring a degree in medicine. Mrs. Anandi Joshi has the honor to be the very first woman doctor of India”.
Anandibai Joshee and the WMCP received congratulatory messages from Queen Victoria, Empress of India.
In 1886, Anandi and Gopalrao decided to return to India. During the latter part of her stay in America, Anandi often fell sick. She suffered from severe cough.
When Anandi and Gopalrao reached Bombay, a grand reception was arranged to honour Anandi. The princely State of Kolhapur appointed her as the physician-in-charge of the female ward of the local King Albert Edward Hospital.
Anandi contracted tuberculosis. As the days passed, the disease worsened. Anandi, though a qualified doctor from America, insisted on consulting the then well-known Ayurvedic doctor Dr. Mehendele living in Poona. When she was taken to Poona, Dr. Mehendele refused to see her even though he was told that she was in the throes of death. Adding insult to injury, Mehendele was cruel enough to say:
“This woman went to America. She lived alone with strangers, ate food forbidden to Brahmins by religion and brought shame on Brahmins”.
Anandi returned home dejected.
Members of the elite in Poona came to see Anandi. They praised her for her achievements, but no one came forward with any financial help to the family. Then, she received a letter from Lokamanya Tilak, Editor of “Kesari”:
“I know how in the face of all the difficulties you went to a foreign country and acquired knowledge with such diligence. You are one of the greatest women of our modern era. It came to my knowledge that you need money desperately. I am a
newspaper editor. I do not have a large income. Even then I wish to give you one hundred rupees”.
After reading Tilak’s letter, Anandi wept. She said:
“This penury, this begging for charity, no, no, I can’t bear it any more. What was I, and what has become of me? I am not a beggar’s daughter. None of my family was ever a beggar. I am a landlord’s daughter. That people should take pity on me and offer me money for my bare existence, how can I live with all this? God is so cruel, why does he not relieve me of all this?”
A few days later, on February 26, 1887, Anandibai died. Her death was mourned throughout India.
Again, breaking with tradition, Gopalrao sent Anandi’s ashes to Mrs. Theodicia Carpenter, who laid the them to rest in her family cemetery at Poughkeepsie, New York.
Anandi Gopal Joshee is still remembered among Indian feminists.
The Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, founded in 1850, changed its name to the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMPC) in 1867. It was the first medical institution in the world established to train women in medicine and offer them the M.D., degree.
In the above photograph taken on October 10, 1885, are three students of the WMPC. This and many other images now reside in the archives of Drexel University, which absorbed the successor to the WMCP, in 2003.
All three women became the first woman from their respective countries to get a degree in western medicine. They are:
(1) Dr.Anandabai Joshee, Seranysore, India.
(2) Dr. Kei Okami, Tokio, Japan.
(3) Dr. Tabat M. Islambooly, Damascus, Syria.
The saree-clad woman with a determined look is Anandibai Joshee from India.
Anandibai Joshi was the first of two Indian women to receive a degree in Western medicine in 1886. The other was Kadambini Ganguly, a Graduate of Bengal Medical College.
Anandibai is also believed to be the first Hindu woman to set foot on American soil. This is her story.
Anandibai was born as Yamuna on March 31, 1865, in Kalyan, in Thane District, Maharashtra, India. Her father, Ganapatrao Joshee, hailed from the orthodox Brahmin family of the Peshwas. The Joshees ran a joint family and for three generations were staying under the same roof. The family was now impoverished. They had some ancestral land and a dilapidated building.
In those days, the tradition among orthodox Brahmins was to get a girl married before she reached puberty. Otherwise, their society considered it a public disgrace to the family.
When Yamuna turned nine and nearing puberty, her parents became desperate. They did not have enough monetary resources to offer a handsome dowry. They were ready to accept any male who would marry the girl after accepting the meagre dowry which they could afford to give.
A postal clerk in Kalyan, 25-year-old Gopalrao Joshee, resided in Thane. He was a widower. Some considered him an eccentric for his romantic obsession of remarriage of widows. He also sought education of women, which was a taboo among the Hindus in India at that time. Some, even said that his first wife Savitri died, unable to bear his bullying her to read and write Marathi.
When someone suggested Gopalrao’s name as a prospective groom, Yamuna’s family immediately showed interest. The only condition laid by Gopalrao was that her parents should permit him to educate the girl. Yamuna’s family accepted his condition and fixed the marriage.
A few days, after agreeing to marry Yamuna, the romantic Gopalrao changed his mind. His idea of marrying a widow still haunted him. He left home without telling anyone with the intention of getting married to a widow in Poona. But when that woman came to know that he was an ordinary postal clerk, she refused to see him. When the dejected groom returned to Kalyan, the muhurta (auspicious moment) had passed. So, the marriage took place at a later date.
After the marriage, Gopalrao changed his wife’s name Yamuna to Anandi. He took care of his child bride almost like a father. During his leisure hours, Gopalrao started teaching Anandi to read and write Marathi. He instilled in her a desire to learn more.
It was common for Brahmins, in those times, to be proficient in Sanskrit. But Gopalrao influenced by Lokhitawadi’sShat Patre, considered learning English more important. So, to avoid the interference of her parents in her education, Gopalrao got himself transferred to Alibag, Calcutta, Kolhapur, etc.
In due course of time, Anandi metamorphosed into an intellectual girl with an excellent knowledge of English.
Gopalrao was much impressed with the zeal of the Christian missionaries in the field of women’s education. He understood that education for women was the key to the prosperity of a nation. So, he wanted to set an example by giving a higher education to his own wife.
When Anandi was 14, she gave birth to a boy. But the baby died within 10 days due to non-availability of proper medical care. This proved the turning point in Anandi’s life. Encouraged by her husband, she vowed to become a physician.
While stationed in Kolhapur, Gopalrao met an American Christian lady missionary. Due to her influence he gave serious thought to becoming a Christian. He thought of sending his wife to America for higher education with the help of the Christian missionaries.
So, in 1880, Gopalrao sent a letter to Royal Wilder, an American missionary if he could help his wife to study medicine in America. Wilder replied that he would help in his wife’s education if he and his wife agree to convert to Christianity. The condition proposed by Wilder was not acceptable to him and his wife. However, Wilder was gracious enough to Gopalrao’s appeal in Princeton’s Missionary Review.
Mrs. Theodicia Carpenter, a resident of Roselle, New Jersey, United States, happened to read it while waiting to see her dentist. Impressed by Gopalrao’s desire to help his wife study medicine in America, she wrote to him. Anandi wrote back to Mrs. Carpenter, and a friendship sprouted from their correspondence. Anandi’s earnest desire to study medicine in America prompted her to offer accommodation for Anandi in America if she so desired. A physician couple named Thorborn suggested to Anandi to apply to the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania.
In Calcutta, Anandi’s health declined. Mrs. Carpenter sent medicines from America.
In 1883, Gopalrao was transferred to Serampore, in Hooghly District, West Bengal. So, Gopalrao decided to send Anandi alone to America to pursue her medical studies, despite her poor health. She was a bit uncertain about travelling alone across the sea, but Gopalrao convinced her to set an example for other women.
I came across the above fabulous photo on the internet. Do you like it? What message does it convey?
Here are some photographs I came across while surfing the net.
The vow of Hindu-Muslim unity
Talking about communal harmony on April 8, 1919, Mahatma Gandhi said:
“If the Hindu-Muslim communities could be united in one bond of mutual friendship and if each could act towards the other as children of the same mother, it would be a consummation devoutly to be wished. But before this unity becomes a reality, both the communities will have to give up a good deal, and will have to make radical changes in ideas held herefore. Members of one community when talking about those of the other at times indulge in terms so vulgar that they but acerbate the relations between the two. In Hindu society, we do not hesitate to indulge in unbecoming language when talking of the Mohammedans and vice-versa. Many believe that an ingrained and ineradicable animosity exists between the Hindus and
“When both are inspired by the spirit of sacrifice, when both try to do their duty towards one another instead of pressing their rights, then and then only would the long-standing differences between the two communities cease. Each must respect the other’s religion, must refrain from even secretly thinking ill of the other. We must politely dissuade members of both communities from indulging in bad language against one another. Only a serious endeavour in this direction can remove the estrangement between us.” (25:201-202)
He made the members present take a vow as under:
“With God as the witness, we Hindus and Mohammedans declare that we shall behave towards one another as children of the same parents, that we shall have no differences, that the sorrows of each shall be the sorrows of the other and that each shall help the other in removing them. We shall respect each other’s religion and religious feelings and shall not stand in the way of our respective religious practices. We shall always refrain from violence to each other in the name of religion.”
Today, while Hindus all over the world are celebrating Krishna Janmashtami, I was flipping through my vast collection of photographs harvested from the World Wide Web. I came across photographs that heartened my soul with love for my country where my Hindu and Muslim brethren coexist as a closely knit family.
Today, is the first Sunday of August and we in India are celebrating Friendship Day. For many years, people the world over have celebrated Friendship Day.
It has become a popular tradition for friends to exchange gifts, flowers, greeting cards and wrist bands on Friendship Day.
Friendship Day was originally promoted in 1930 by Joyce C. Hall, the founder of Hallmark cards. He intended to celebrate it on August 2nd. Though the Friendship Day was initially promoted by the greeting card industry, the growth of the internet and proliferation of mobile phones have made it easier to greet friends than ever before. Advent of social networking sites, helps people to celebrate Friendship Day online/
On 20 July 1958 by Dr. Artemio Bracho was the first to propose the idea of a World Friendship Day during a dinner with friends in Puerto Pinasco, Paraguay. Out of this humble meeting of friends, the World Friendship Crusade that promotes friendship and fellowship among all human beings, regardless of race, colour or religion was born. Since then, 30 July has been faithfully celebrated as Friendship Day in Paraguay every year and has also been adopted by several other countries.
In 1998, in honour of Friendship Day Nane Annan, wife of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, named Winnie the Pooh as the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nation. The event was co-sponsored by the U.N. Department of Public Information and Disney Enterprises, and was co-hosted by Kathy Lee Gifford.
On 27 April 2011 the General Assembly of the United Nations drew a draft resolution on International Day of Friendship that designated 30 July as the International Day of Friendship:
International Day of Friendship
The General Assembly,
Recalling the goals and objectives of its Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace and the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010), and all its relevant resolutions,
Recognizing the relevance and importance of friendship as a noble and valuable sentiment in the lives of human beings around the world,
Bearing in mind that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and presents an opportunity to build bridges between communities, honouring cultural diversity,
Affirming that friendship can contribute to the efforts of the international community, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, towards the promotion of dialogue among civilizations, solidarity, mutual understanding and reconciliation,
Convinced of the importance of involving youth and future leaders in community activities aimed at the inclusion of and respect between different cultures, while promoting international understanding, respect for diversity and a culture of peace, in accordance with the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace,
Noting that friendship-related activities, events and initiatives are observed each year in many countries,
1. Decides to designate 30 July as the International Day of Friendship;
2. Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day of Friendship in an appropriate manner, in accordance with the culture and other
appropriate circumstances or customs of their local, national and regional communities, including through education and public awareness-raising activities;
3. Requests the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of all Member States and organizations of the United Nations system.
Though the General Assembly of the United Nations designated 30 July as the official International Day of Friendship, some countries, including India, celebrate Friendship Day on the first Sunday of August.
In Oberlin, Ohio, Friendship Day is celebrated on 8 April each year.
The year 2012 is a once in a lifetime centennial celebration year to commemorate the gift of 3,020 cherry blossom trees from the people of Japan to the people of the United States.
A century ago, a world-famous chemist and first president of Daiichi Sankyo Co, Ltd, Dr. Jokichi Takamine, played a pivotal role in arranging the gift of trees from the City of Tokyo to Washington, DC.
On March 27, 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City donated the trees to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and to celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations.
First Lady Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin. These two original trees are still standing today near the John Paul Jones statue at the south end of 17th Street. Workmen planted the rest of the trees around the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park. Even after a century the trees have spread their roots and survived the elements, and have withstood the test of time.
This year the centennial celebration of the gift of trees will be celebrated from March 20 – April 27, 2012, in Washington, DC.
On March 23, 2012, my wife and I were in Washington, DC. We felt blessed to be in US during this centennial of the gift of trees. I took countless photographs that day.
Here I have embedded a video that I created using my photos. It was an unforgettable evening that we spent surrounded by cherry blossom. The music playing in the background is one that I enjoy listening without tiring – Carlos Santana’s ever green “Flor D’Luna (Moonflower)“.