Thursday, February 28, 2013

Main points of Union Budget for the financial year 2013-14

Highlights of Union Budget 2013-14.

1. Proposal to set up India’s first Women’s Bank as a public sector bank.
2. Nirbhaya Fund to empower women…
3. Rs. 1,000 crore for skill development of ten lakh youth to enhance their employability and productivity.
4. Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) Scheme to be rolled out throughout the country during the term of UPA Government.
5. Fiscal Deficit for 2013-14 is pegged at 4.8% of GDP. The Revenue Deficit will be 3.3% for the same period.
6. Plan Expenditure placed at Rs. 5,55,322 crore. It is 33.3% of the total expenditure while Non Plan Expenditure is estimated at Rs. 11,09,975 crore. The plan expenditure in 2013-14 will be 29.4% more than the RE of the current year i.e. 2012-13.
7. … Allocation for Rural Development Ministry raised by 46% to Rs. 80,194 crore.
8. The target for farm credit for 2013-14 has been set at Rs. 7,00,000 crore against Rs. 5,75,000 crore during the current year.
9.  Rs. 10,000 crore earmarked for National Food Security towards the incremental cost.
10. Education gets Rs. 65,867 crore, an increase of 17% over RE for 2012-13.

11. ICDS gets Rs. 17,700 crore. This is 11.7% more than the current year.
12. Drinking water and sanitation will receive Rs. 15,260 crore. Rs. 1,400 crore is being provided for setting up water purification plants to cover arsenic and fluoride affected rural areas.
13. Health and Family Welfare Ministry has been allotted Rs. 37,330 crore. National Health Mission will get Rs. 21,239 crore which represents 24.3% over the RE.
14. … JNNURM will receive Rs. 14,873 crore… against RE of Rs. 7,383 crore in the current year.
15. Defence has been allocated Rs. 2,03,672 crore.
16. Rs. 3,511 crore … to Minority Affairs Ministry, 60% higher than RE for 2012-13.
17. The Government will encourage Infrastructure Debt Fund (IDF) and allow some institutions to raise tax free bonds up to Rs. 50,000 crore which is 100% more than the current year.
18. India Infrastructure Finance Corporation (IIFC), in partnership with ADB will help infrastructure companies to access bond market to tap long term funds.
19. Income limit under Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme (RGESS) will be raised from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 12 lakh.
20. First home loan from a bank or housing finance corporation up to Rs. 25 lakh entitled to additional deduction of interest upto Rs. 1 lakh.

21. Proposal to launch Inflation Indexed Bonds or Inflation Indexed National Security Certificates to protect savings from inflation.
22. On oil and gas exploration policy, the Budget proposes to move from the present profit sharing mechanism to revenue sharing. Natural gas pricing policy will be reviewed.
23. On coal, the Budget proposes adoption of a policy of pooled pricing.
24. Benefits or preferences enjoyed by MSME to continue upto three years after they grow out of this category.
25. Refinancing capacity of SIDBI raised to Rs. 10,000 crore.
26. Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) for textile to continue in 12th Plan with an investment target of Rs. 1,51,000 crore.
27. Rs. 14,000 crore will be provided to public sector banks for capital infusion in 2013-14.
28. A grant of Rs. 100 crore each has been made to 4 institutions of excellence including Aligarh Muslim University, Banaras Hindu University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati and Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
29. New taxes to yield Rs. 18,000 crore.
30. A surcharge of 10% on persons (other than companies) whose taxable income exceeds Rs.1 crore have been levied.

31. Tobacco products, SUVs and Mobile Phones to cost more.
32. Relief of Rs. 2000 for the tax payers in the first bracket of 2 to 5 lakhs.
33. ‘Voluntary Compliance Encouragement Scheme’ launched for recovering service tax dues.
34. Rs. 9,000 crore earmarked as the first installment of balance of CST compensations to different States/UTs.
35. The Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) has been allocated Rs. 11,500 crore.
36. Plans for seven new cities have been finalized for industrial corridors and work on two new smart industrial cities at Dholera (Gujarat) and Shendra Bidkin (Maharashtra) will start during 2013-14.
37. Two new ports will be established in Sagar (West Bengal) and in Andhra Pradesh.
38. New outer harbour will be developed in the VOC port at Thoothukkudi (Tamil Nadu) through PPP at an estimated cost of Rs 7,500 crore.
39. Grant of investment allowance at the rate of 15% to manufacturing companies that invest more than Rs. 100 crore in plant and machinery during the period 1.4.2013 to 31.3.2015
40. Rashtriya Swasthiya Bima Yojana, which cover 34mn families below the poverty line, will now be extended to other categories such as rickshaw, auto-rickshaw and taxi-drivers, sanitation workers, rag pickers and mine workers.

Courtesy: Ministry of Finance, GOI.

'RE' stands for Revised Estimates


Dakshinayana Part Nine – Chhattisgarh and Raipur

MP-CG Border

I cursed myself for waking up so late and missing the first bus to Raipur. Around 10.30, I checked out from the hotel and walked towards the bus stand. One driver told “Bus will come soon”. As S K Pottekkad told, one of the best methods to explore a city is to walk through the roads. As there was not enough time, I simply roamed around the bus stand itself.

From a nearby store, I bought ‘Patrika’ – a widely available and popular newspaper here. By this time Raipur bus also arrived at the stand. After having a glass of sugarcane juice, I boarded that white bus to Raipur. It was a big bus with sleeper facility on upper deck. Fortunately, I got a window seat. After waiting for some more time, we started our legendry voyage to Raipur – ticket charge was 220 INR.

For bus conductor, everybody is a ‘savari’ - savari to Raipur, savari to Bicchiya etc. I got a co-passenger as well - a kid studying in 10th standard.

Bus stopped in between, to take some more passengers. Conductor becomes very cheerful whenever somebody tells him Raipur!!! During one of these stoppages, our conductor bought coconut and agarbati as well.

We finally reached on the banks of Narmada – a river widely respected and worshipped here. While crossing the river, we stopped again on top of the bridge. At first, I thought there may be some road block. Parallel to our bridge at a lower level, there was one more bridge on left side. A lot of people were walking through this bridge on foot. I just watched the slowly flowing calm waters of Narmada. Suddenly conductor came out through the front door, holding coconut in one hand and agarbati in other one. He did some pooja there and finally dropped the coconut to the river. Note that, all the time we were on the bridge.

After poojas we started again, travelled rest of the bridge and crossed city limits. My co-passenger was coming from Jabalpur after attending some cultural festivals there. We slowly started our communication – about villages, roads, his school etc. Contrary to my expectation, roads was not that much bad even in those uninhibited areas. He swiftly corrected me, “here roads are ok, but after some time roads will be bad. In Chhattisgarh roads are good.” What attracted me more was his comparison of MP and CG. Finally, he summarized in two sentences. “Ab tak yahan (MP border with CG) utna pragati nahi huva hei. CG ka road dekho, vahanka mukya Raman zhabardasth hei”.

Earlier also I heard about the improvements in Chhattisgarh - in infrastructure, stopping the leakages in Public distribution system (PDS) etc. Just like many other events in these faraway places (from Delhi and Mumbai studios of media), improvements stories may also end up somewhere in the inner pages of newspapers. After all there may not be any dedicated propaganda wing working non-stop to highlight it.

We crossed some more villages. Conductor was always aggressive in making sure that all have a seat. Interestingly, all this aggressiveness evaporated when a beautiful girl boarded the bus and sat next to him. She sat there because no other seat was empty. After that, he became as soft as lotus pedal. All of a sudden his voice become very soft and started a conversation with her. It didn’t surprise me, I saw many people roaring like lions suddenly start bleating like sheep in the presence of a beautiful girls.

Slowly road became very bad, so bad that I sincerely doubted whether our bus will reach Chhattisgarh border at all. Some more girls got in and remaining bus crews also engaged in conversation with them. Finally my co-passenger told good-bye and got down somewhere close or after Bicchiya.

After struggling through that road for some more time, we entered Chilpi range. Chilpi forest range is continuous to Kanha National Park (KNP) in the West, connected with Motinala Range in the north and Dongargath-Khaara forest range in the south.  MP-CG border is situated inside Chipli range. Both sides of the road were guarded by trees, which were getting a fresh coat of paint every time a bus/ heavy vehicle passing through that area.

Delhi Gang Rape Incident

An elderly person came and sat next to me. As he was sitting idle, I had to start the conversation. He also didn’t forget to add, his share of praise to CG (Chhattisgarh) roads. Suddenly, the issue of Delhi gang rape came up. His question was simple; according to me what should be the punishment for rapists? However answering it was not at all simple. Please note that, this conversation happened on 31st December - just two days after the victim died in a Singapore hospital.

“For rape they may get a maximum of 10 years according to law”. As she died, they would be prosecuted for murder as well. He was not satisfied with that answer; for him punishment is plain and simple - ‘shoot them’.

Well, I can understand his emotions; he may also have a daughter of same age. But what he proposed and what many other people suggested are not and should not be the choices of a modern society. We have to prosecute them, according to the law of the land and according to the process established by the law. Only the courts have the power to decide an apt sentence for them.
If we start shooting people accused of rape, then there won’t be any end. Justice should be swift, but due process has to be followed.

Rape – single or gang - was not started today or yesterday in India. Gang rapes and parading the victim naked throughout the village is happening every now and then. In all cases there will be some manufactured reasons - maybe she loved someone from higher caste, or some other gotra; may be her brother eloped with a girl from higher caste; may be social honchos want to enjoy her... reasons are always there. Which this tamasha went on unstopped in broad daylight in numerous Indian villages why the so called middle and upper class woke up to see the reality? If society liven up to its ideals at that time, probably that poor Delhi girl may live today as well.

According to the reports, none of the highly enlightened social members took them to hospital. Society can’t dump all accusations over government and simply wash their hands; they should take their share of blames. Even now, if you find an injured person bleeding on a roadside due to some accidents, will you take him/ her to hospital? Don’t say yes just to satisfy your moral consciousness.


At Night
Slowly he moved to Gujarat and Himachal elections. By this time we crossed MP-CG border and entered Chhattisgarh. Bus stopped in front of a small dhaba. Roads were indeed good in this side of border. Chilpi Ghats are located some 20- 30 minutes away from here. But, what we don’t know was - the bus wouldn’t start again!!!

Yes, people had their tea/ coffee and came back only to see a dead bus. It didn’t surprise me; any vehicle would create problems after passing through that horrible road. In the middle of the jungle, while sun was rushing towards western oceans we had to wait for the next bus to come. Fortunately, it came and I got a seat in the sleeper - next to a movable glass window.

At Night
Chilpi Ghats

Chilpi at night.
I had to wait for some more time in that not so comfortable seat to see the ghats. Scarcity of light indeed decreased the visibility of this lengthy ghat wearing green cap. I just tried to imagine the bottom of the ghat. In between, I slipped in to a deep sleep.

When I woke up, bus was approaching Pondi. One of the next main stop was Kawardha. To my surprise, there were two road rollers working in that night to tar a road near to bus stand. Slowly but steadily number of travellers came down. I slept again for some more time. Finally we reached Raipur. I got down close to Railway station and started walking through the empty roads of the city. Minute needle was about to touch twelve - last seconds of 2012!!! Some people were already exploding crackers and celebrating the arrival of New Year - 2013. Sky was lit with fire crackers spitting multiple colours and drawing patterns in an otherwise dark blanket.

Raipur Railway Junction

Raipur Railway Station
I walked further and reached Raipur railway station. Its modern building was flooded with white lights. Finally clock stuck 12, some more explosions in the sky. Ironically, people in railway station were too much worried about their trains to celebrate new-year. Here, among these multitudes – some sitting on the floor, some others sleeping there – this 12 ‘o’ clock also end up just like any other 12. I didn’t reserve any ticket for Nagpur – for which I had to regret for rest of the night. After a lot of thinking finally I bought a general ticket for Nagpur. Train came at 2.15am; there were hardly any space in general compartments.

I got only some inches to stand, just to put my two legs on floor. Just in front, three guys were sitting in the floor. On another side, one guy was sleeping on the floor. He kept his head below the seats; his legs were below the seats on opposite side. I don’t know how he was able to take breath. On other side one lady is sleeping in sitting mode, two other guys were sleeping in the two side lower seats. Berth was filled with a lot of bags and vacant spaces were occupied by human beings. One mid-aged couple were standing in the back, always asking others to go forward and gave them some space to sit, as if train bogies were made of rubber band.

Carrying a big bag and camera increased my problems. After struggling hard, I could only find some 10 inches of space in the berth. If I put my bag there, I have to support it with one of my hand for rest of the journey. There were no other options.

Most frightening was the length of journey. I have to stand in the same position for the next five hours - till 7.20 in the morning. My last journey in General compartment was equally horrible - Palakkad to Bangalore – 7 hours standing in the night!!! At that time I was travelling with a small bag and space was available to stand, but here it was not even possible to turn my legs. We crossed Bhilai, Durg etc and finally reached came out of that furnace at Nagpur!!!


For reading rest of the articles please visit,

Dakshinayana Part One – An Introduction
Dakshinayana Part Two – Bangalore to Bhopal
Dakshinayana Part Three – Sanchi
Dakshinayana Part Four – Bhopal: The city of lakes
Dakshinayana Part Five: Ujjain – The Holy City, hearing the sounds of forefathers
Dakshinayana Part Six: Indore – Trade hub of Central India
Dakshinayana Part Seven – Jabalpur: Kalchuris, Gonds and Narmada
Dakshinayana Part Eight – Kanha National Park and Mandla
Dakshinayana Part Nine – Chhattisgarh and Raipur
Dakshinayana Part Ten: Nagpur – The Orange City
Dakshinayana Part Eleven – Sevagram: Walking with Gandhi
Dakshinayana Part Twelve – Aurangabad: The City of Gates
Dakshinayana Part Thirteen – Ellora Memories
Dakshinayana Part Fourteen – U shaped Ajanta
Dakshinayana Part Fifteen – Pune: The Maratha heartland

Monday, February 25, 2013

“Tax the rich” or “Tax the people who are earning a lot but not paying any tax”, I support the second and you?

“Tax the rich”, is one of the catchphrases we are hearing regularly in these days. This is considered as most virtuous act, a finance minister can do. If targeted people support it, then they will be celebrated as an epitome of virtues; if someone opposes it, then they will be branded as morally bankrupt, selfish, enemy of general public etc. Thanks to systematic corruption, there is a general view that people who made money are not done it in an appropriate way, and rich are supposed to bequeath a part of their wealth to public.

Well, I disagree. Taxing the rich is not the solution for all of our economic problems, even though high sound bites make it more appealing. People who are generally working for government (I am talking only about salary not the sum coming through bribes) and reputed private companies are getting a salary, in which income tax is already deducted at source (TDS). This applicable for all legal transactions in stock markets, deposits in formal bank accounts etc. It’s altogether a different matter that, options are available to reduce the taxable income in the form of HRA, House loans, insurance policies etc. There are a number of people who are paying these taxes very honestly.

If government is more interested in augmenting tax rates for people - who are already paying income taxes - than enlarging the total number of people coming under tax bracket by coming down heavily on illegal transactions like havala, black markets etc, there is a good risk that people may start thinking about - why they should pay income tax? Now itself, there is a wide spread anguish among the people that, hard earned money they are paying to government in the form of income taxes are ending up in dishonest hands.

A recent Economist article says that,

“Before... reforms in 1991, taxation meant clobbering manufacturers with customs and excise duties...Farming, which employs half of all Indians, contributes only one-seventh of all GDP and is largely exempt from tax.)...

...Much of the economy remains out of sight of the taxman. A lot of the services sector is informal and cash-based. The property market is notorious for black money. Big firms in the formal economy pay a decent rate of tax, but many smaller businesses fall under the regime for personal tax, where compliance is poor. Surjit Bhalla, of Oxus Investments, reckons income-tax receipts are two-thirds below what they should be. Just 32m people, or 2.5% of Indians, pay income tax.” 

--- "A walk on the wild side - The Economist"

Do you really believe that, only 32mn Indians are qualified for paying income tax?

Government needs to come down heavily on people who are earning good amounts but not paying any tax at all; instead of forcing the people who are already paying, to pay more. Unreasonably putting more obligations on people who are properly paying tax, will be a punishment for earning more. If government really want to come up with taxes then bring in inheritance tax, where new generation will inherit huge amounts from parents without actually doing anything other than a birth by chance. But that also should be fair and just.

Remember, when you tax super rich they will bring in a super chartered account and bring down the tax through already existing loop holes to practically small amounts.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hopping from parties to parties – the political dramas before elections in Karnataka

What you think about India's prospects for a gold medal for jumping events, say high jumps, long jumps etc, in next Olympics? Think for an instant before answering as zero. Recently, jumping events gained enormous popularity here. What more, we are currently witnessing stunning records set my some wonderful people whose original profession is politics.

Even though situation is not much better in many other states, Karnataka recently astonished entire nation by sheer number and quality of jumpers.

As a back ground information, let me tell you that, Karnataka is going for elections.  Prospect of ruling coalition, which already introduced three chief ministers in five years and witnessed a split is not so sound. It is not that, opposition is a sacred cow.

What we are seeing now is, many people including ministers are resigning from ruling party and joining in opposition parties. In next election, these people may get selected from opposition parties and become ministers; if opposition was elected to power. This was the scenario we witnessed five years back, when current ruling coalition extracted a number of people from opposition to create a majority.

Now what voters are supposed to do?


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dakshinayana Part Eight – Kanha National Park and Mandla

Kanha National park is located in Mandla and Balaghat districts of Madhya Pradesh. This park - now stretches over 940 km² - was created on 1st June 1955. National park's buffer zone of 1,067 km² and neighbouring 110 km² Phen Sanctuary forms Kanha Tiger Reserve (created on 1974).  Park has three entrances - Kisli, Mukki and Serai (more information are given in the end).

Kanha Park Information

Entry points and How to reach?

Kanha Tiger Reserve has three entry points, namely, Khatia, Mukki and Sarhi. Khatia is nearly 160 Kms from Jabalpur (Via Mandla), 250 Kms from Raipur (Via Chilpi-Mukki-Baihar) and 220 Kms from Nagpur (Via Seoni-Nainpur Chiraidongri).

Mukki is nearly 200 Kms from Jablpur (Via Mandla-Mocha-Baihar), 210 Kms from Raipur (Via Chilpi) and 260 Kms (Via Seoni-NainpurMocha-Baihar) and 260 Kms (Via Balaghat-Baihar) from Nagpur.

Sarhi Gate is nearly 8 Kms off Bichhiya, which is on NH 12 A about 150 Kms from Jabalpur (Via Mandla) and about 220 Kms from Raipur (Via Chilpi-Sijhora). According to reports currently no logistic infrastructure available at Sarhi Gate.

Gates supports the Day Visitors only.

Best Time

Kanha Park opens from 16th October to 30 th June every year. Best time to visit Kanha  Tiger Reserve is from October to December and Aril to May.  All Wednesday afternoon safaris shall remain closed to the visitors. 'Holi' is also a holiday here.


Tickets are available at Rs 1030/- for each safari to Mukki, Kisli and Sarhi Zone and Rs 1530/- to Kanha Zone. The cost of the ticket does not include the Guide (200) and Vehicle charges (six seats - 1800).



Mandla Bus stand
Early morning, good sceneries on both sides, in total journey to Mandla were interesting. Jabalpur Vehicle Factory and Bargi Reservoir on Narmada River located on the sides of this road. Finally we reached Mandla town well before noon. This historical town is located on the banks of Narmada – will tell you more about Mandla later in this article. After getting down at Mandla bus stand, I got another bus to Kanha – The same one which broke down yesterday night and missed its schedule from Jabalpur. After waiting for some 20 minutes more in that stand, we finally started our journey to Kanha.


Bus charge from Mandla to Kanha (KNP) was 50 INR. I got a seat in the front, bus was not so crowded. Slowly we entered to less and less populated areas; at one stop driver asked about my destination. Probably he wanted to know, whether I already have the ticket or not.

As I was not sure on which day I will be able to reach Kanha, I didn’t reserve the tickets. In case you would like to visit Kanha NP, it will be better to book the tickets online. Kanha NP is the last stop for that shuttle. After reaching there, bus driver introduced me to one of his cousins. He told me that, “there is a family who is going to the Park in afternoon session” (Park will close at noon and open only after 2.30pm. which will last till 5.30pm). Charge was – 2500. After some negotiation it came down to 2200 --- 1530 for ticket, 200 for guide and rest for vehicle (Maruti Gypsy).

This is the same jungle which inspired legendry Rudyard Kipling, author of ‘Jungle Book’, as well.

Just 30 minutes past noon. I had to wait next two hours on that road. Finally it was 2.30, Gypsy’s started to go in one by one. In our open Gypsy, there were three members other than me plus a driver and a guide. It was my first time, in an open gypsy (my favourite vehicle), through a national park where wild animals are free to roam around. Three other tourists were from Calcutta (rest of their family members were travelling in another gypsy). They already went in the morning to see tigers, but didn’t see the prince of the jungle. When they came to know that, I am from Kerala they explained about their trip to Thiruvananthapuram (aka Trivandrum), Alapuzha (aka Aleppey) and Ernakulum (aka Ernankulam :) ).

People often make the mistake of seeing forest for tigers or lions, and often underestimate the scenic beauty of trees and purity of atmosphere. We saw groups of spotted deer, Swamp deer (aka Barasingha), Leopard (I didn’t properly see him, but guide told it was leopard), peacock etc; but not tiger. On the way back, we heard the roar of a tiger.

Inside Kanha, we moved through designated paths overlooked by luxurious growth of Sal trees, in between there were a lot of open areas where deer groups enjoyed their time under sun. Guides, we, driver everyone were looking for pug marks. On the way back, we heard the roaring, stopped the gypsy and waited there for some time, but he didn’t come out. Three hours went quickly; around 5.30 Kanha’s gates were closed behind us.

I met the hotel guy again to collect my bag. He asked me to stay in the night and go to Raipur on next morning. Room charge was fixed at 1350 INR; however he was ready to give concessions. I analysed my options, my liquidity was very low – in fact I was short in cash (there was an ATM, with a notice indicating its inability to dispense cash). If I stayed there, it would be difficult for me to pay hotel bill and next day’s bus charge to Raipur. If I reached Mandla in that night, I could use some ATM and would get a cheaper room. Finally I decided to leave, thanking him for the offer. Last bus from Kanha was at 5.30 in the evening - fortunately it was 10 minutes late – otherwise I would have missed that one.

Before leaving Kanha let me tell you something about the park. Authorities want to restrict the number of people entering Kanha, in the name of protecting the environment. This attitude coupled with recent Supreme Court orders shot up the entry fee. This often limits the options available for people who can’t afford so much merely for three hours. Just imagine you are coming with 8-10 member family. Shelling out this exorbitant entry fee may not be a good idea. Another question is – compared to entry fee in other National Parks and Tiger Reserves, does a journey through Kanha worth the entree fee? May be I am wrong, maybe I didn’t travel enough to see the beauty of Kanha, but my answer is ‘No, it doesn’t’


Bus was soon filled with people rushing to their homes to spend night with their family. Twilight soon transformed to dark night. Yellow light coming from the ceiling of our noisy vehicle hit the tired faces, which were desperately looking for a bed to sleep. Lady sitting next to me in black dress was eagerly talking to her son. Steady stream of cool air coming through an opening in the side window slowly made me sleep.

Finally the calmness of jungle gave her way to noisy Mandla. Six days of non-stop journey, sleeping only 2-3 hours in railway stations (that too in sitting mode), were slowly but steadily making me tired. Finally I rented a hotel room for the night (350 – double bed for a day). After having one aalo-paratha and some normal parathas from a nearby hotel, I slept happily in Mandla.

History of Mandla

Streets of Mandla

Mandla (aka Mahishmati in old days) is considered as the capital of Sahasrabahu Kartyaveer Arjun of puranas. Centuries ago, in this city, Adi Shankara had a debate with Mandana Misra - Misra’s wife Ubhaya Bharati was the referee. After 15 days of defeat Misra accepted defeat, but Adi Shankara was subsequently challenged by his wife. According to the story, she asked him questions related to sexual congress between man and woman – which as sannyasi was beyond the expertise of Shankara. So he called for 15 day recess. Later he defeated Ubhaya Bharati by answering all of her questions. Following this defeat, Mandana Misra accepted Sanyasa order with the new name Suresvaracarya as per the agreed conditions of the debate.

To Raipur

Next day I woke up very late for which I had to pay heavily - missed the first bus to Raipur at 6.30 in the morning. I had to settle for 11.30am bus which won’t reach Raipur before sunset.


Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park

For reading rest of the articles please visit,

Dakshinayana Part One – An Introduction
Dakshinayana Part Two – Bangalore to Bhopal
Dakshinayana Part Three – Sanchi
Dakshinayana Part Four – Bhopal: The city of lakes
Dakshinayana Part Five: Ujjain – The Holy City, hearing the sounds of forefathers
Dakshinayana Part Six: Indore – Trade hub of Central India
Dakshinayana Part Seven – Jabalpur: Kalchuris, Gonds and Narmada
Dakshinayana Part Eight – Kanha National Park and Mandla
Dakshinayana Part Nine – Chhattisgarh and Raipur
Dakshinayana Part Ten: Nagpur – The Orange City
Dakshinayana Part Eleven – Sevagram: Walking with Gandhi
Dakshinayana Part Twelve – Aurangabad: The City of Gates
Dakshinayana Part Thirteen – Ellora Memories
Dakshinayana Part Fourteen – U shaped Ajanta
Dakshinayana Part Fifteen – Pune: The Maratha heartland

Dakshinayana Part Seven – Jabalpur: Kalchuris, Gonds and Narmada

Dhuandhar Waterfalls
“Come to parking area, it’s raining!!!” At first, I didn’t comprehend what exactly he wants to say. “Smell of soil after first rain....” he continued.

It was the first rain in this season [in Bangalore], and who would like to miss it? To stand in an open area, and let the heavy rain drops to hit the face and split in to tens of tiny droplets. I left my desk and went outside; parking slots are a bit away from the building. In school days, during monsoons we used to be in the middle of big rice fields, or playing cricket. In both cases monsoon would completely drench us, from cricket pitches we used to run towards the shades of nearby huge Tamarind trees. But suddenly some in the group would definitely shake the branches drenching rest of us.

Monsoon and Mango shower used to gave very hard time for mothers; by the end of the day blue and white uniform would change its colour to greyish brown. Sometimes, right after the rain there would be a beautiful rainbow on the sides of mighty Western Ghats. I can still visualize the sight of a double rainbow formed right after a heavy monsoon rain.
Suddenly rain became heavier and I came back to present world, parking slot is still some hundred metres away.  My memories again went back to the past – to the days I spent in Jabalpur.

I started my journey to Jabalpur from Indore. Train came around five in the evening; I got a side lower seat next to the door. Evening turned to night and the temperature also started to fall. I cursed ‘the moment’ I forgot to take the sweater in the beginning of the journey. In night, whenever train reaches some station were coming in and going out, without taking any interest in closing the door. Every time I had to wake up and close the doors, temperature was less than 7 degree Celsius.

Sometime in the night, we crossed Bhopal and continued our journey towards Jabalpur. There were two armed police men in the train walking from one end to another end. Along with the passage of time, it became very difficult for me to sleep. Forget about sleep, I was not even able to lie down in the seat. Finally, I woke up around two in the morning and looked around; everyone was happily sleeping below blankets weighting a tonne!!! Walked towards the door and closed it once again, did some exercises and spread all the pages of Business Standard and Indian Express over the seat and tried to sleep. It was a futile exercise; finally I gave up and tried to sit in that seat. My heart was beating so fast and loud that, I could hear the sound. I felt that the nerves in the brain were expanding so fast that, it may break at any moment.


At Jabalpur

After every night there is a day. Finally, we crossed Madan Mahal – most of the people in my boggy got down there - and reached Jabalpur. After having a tea and spending some time in that platform, I walked towards platform number one and left the bag at clock room. Here I met a family from Chhattisgarh, who were going to Bedaghat. For a moment, I thought of asking them - whether I can also join with them in cost sharing basis? But they were travelling as a family, it may not be appropriate to ask that question. I couldn’t see any bus there, only autos and four wheelers. I used to think that, platform one will have the biggest entry – exit gates in any railway station and easy to catch bus from there. However, in Jabalpur it’s exactly the opposite
For a 22 km, journey from Railway station to Bedaghat, one guy demanded 700 INR. I almost fainted after hearing it!!! ‘No’ came automatically from my mouth - 700 rupees is a daylight robbery – and I started walking back to railway station. Suddenly the charge reduced to 400 INR. Well, I walked along with him towards a red coloured Maruti Omni. However, it didn’t work out. Omni driver started expressing his inability to take an extra person, probably to increase the price or genuinely the seats were full. This Omni was apparently hired by that Chhattisgarh family. I thought of trying my luck with local trains.

At enquiry counter,
‘Any train to Bedaghat?’
‘Around 4 in the evening’
‘How many kilometres?’
‘Around 190’ (I almost fainted!!!)

Next to enquiry counter there was a computer screen, where we can check train details. It looked like a Stone Age equivalent of modern touch screens available in stations of southern railway. Because of the usage, numbers were almost wiped out from switches. Unfortunately, it didn’t give much info. I went back to the enquiry counter and gave her the paper sheet, which have my travel plan. She told, “Some 25 km from here, better to take local vehicles”. Ok... so it was all about pronunciation...

I left the station with a hope of finding some buses. An elderly person standing near to a tea stall advised me to walk straight, and catch a shared auto to reach bus stand. On the way, another auto driver offered me a ride for 50 INR. Finally, I got a shared auto. Three people were already on board. So I had to adjust myself on a small wooden bar placed opposite to traveller’s seat. After some time we stopped again. This time, driver wanted to buy a school bag for his kid studying in second or third standard. He went outside and started bargaining with a street vendor. Price dropped from 120 to 100, but our driver was not at all ready to spend anything more than 80 rupees. So he came back, with a sad face, and sat on the seat. Many auto drivers make customers crazy with their hard money extraction techniques, still I feel very bad.
Taking that small bag in hand, street vendor came and started describing its beauty. Then suddenly, he started complaining about the heavy loss he would suffer in case he sold it for 80 INR.

I don’t think, that small green bag with some yellow coloured picture on its front deserved that much prise. Finally they settled for 85 INR and we started moving. In the next turn our vehicle stopped again – this time one chotte bayya (younger brother) was sending off his bade bhayya (elder brother) to village. As the lady sitting opposite to me got down in that stop, I was about to get relieved from this hard wooden surface. At the moment of departure, our younger brother still on a scooter touched his elder brother’s feet (he is almost 55-60) and asked for blessings. After seeing this, I sat there itself and left that comfortable one for him. Back in Kerala, I can’t even imagine someone touching another’s feet, unless some rituals like marriage ceremony demands it. At that time also people will touch the feet of father and mother only..
Our auto stopped in front of a soil dump, bus stand was on other side. I gave 10 INR to driver, crossed the construction area and reached the other side. From here, I got a shared auto to Bedaghat - 25 INR. We started our journey - looking both sides of the streets, crowds in the bus stops etc. So many people came in and went out. The guy sitting next to me was checking his position in GPS, after half an hour, all of a sudden in the middle of nothing he asked the driver to stop. Just like me, he was also confused. I looked around, but didn’t find anything other than big trees on both sides of the road. He got down and started walking backwards, he was still looking his position in his phone’s GPS screen.

After some time, we took a left turn from the highway. Bedaghat was not very far. Driver advised us to visit Dhuvanthar (for an extra 5 rupees) first and then come back to Bedaghat for boating. We agreed and went to Dhuvanthar. We followed the zig-zag path dotted with small shops, selling marble statues and other marble works. One young couple were walking in front of me, suddenly one store owner came out and showed some attractive statues to the lady. I think the guy was not so interested in buying it, knowing this, store owner showed it to the girl. Anyway, they went to the store and started looking around. I was walking just behind them, but he paid little attention on me!!! By the way, I liked many of the statues they have and the price also looked reasonable to me.


Me at Dhuvadhar.
This is a small waterfall in Narmada River. Rope way facility - across the river – is also available here. Height of waterfall is not big, still the white colour it forms in the bottom is fantastic. From here onwards, Narmada flows through marble gorges. Looking to these waters, I sat there for some time.

64 Yogini Temple 

This temple is in between, Dhuvadhar waterfalls and Bedaghat. You have to climb around 100 steps to reach the top of a small hill, where the temple is located. Outer temple is circular in shape and has idols of 64 yoginis. A little away from the centre of this circle, you can see a Shiva temple as well. Carved stone figures of deities in this 10th century temple belongs to Kalchuri period. After seeing the Yogini idols, I went inside the Shiva temple. One pandit was doing poojas with some mantras, a lady standing in front of me was taking photos using her mobile. From pandit’s face it was clear that, he wanted to ask her to stop taking photos of idol but he can’t break the mantras also. So he didn’t say anything, by the time he finished, she also finished and went outside.

“At present one can enter inside the temple only from South-West gateway. In outer circular structure – which has a two meter wide roof – a sculpture is installed between every pair of pillars. The temple was built in second half of tenth century. In its original form it was only a circular enclosure. The roof and pillars were added perhaps in 12th century. Yogini worship developed in the medieval period from the cult of the mothers. In ancient period mothers are believed to have numbered seven, eight or nine. Later on this number increased to 64 or 84.

The chief propagator of Yogini worship is believed to be guru Matsyendranatha. He established the Yogini Kaula cult. In fact yogini’s are related to Shaktha tradition. According to ancient texts they can revive the dead, they also help.”


Another view
Next destination was Bedaghat. Boats were available in sharing basis for 40 INR in Bedaghat jetty. Using these boats, one can travel through the calm waters of Narmada which itself is flowing in between beautiful marble gorges. Except me all others in my boat was from Bengal – two families. Apart from us, there were two sailors and one guide – this guy also controls the navigation. Interestingly, guide was telling everything in terms of Parady songs. He was speaking non-stop about the films shot there, loves coming to spend some of their time, people coming with broken hearts and sacrifice their life etc. It looked like these jokes didn’t go down well with two old ladies sitting in the middle of the boat (I don’t know whether they didn’t like it or just want to keep the serious appearance) – all others were enjoying. After some time, boat stopped and operators told us – for going further, you have to pay an additional 10 rupees (per person). Well, finally everybody agreed on additional payment and we went further.

Some marble quarries are operating at a distance, fortunately it’s prohibited here. Some kids standing on top of the hills asked, whether to jump or not? Suddenly, one boat operator explained that, if somebody told yes then they will jump to the water and charge you 20 INR. One guy sitting close to me, told yes. Within no time one small kid – probably aged 10 to 12 - jumped to the river, started swimming towards us caught the back side of the boat. Finally, one guy sitting in the other end had to 20 INR to him. It was an innovative method to make money, but they are wasting their formation years which they should spend in school.
Who will miss a chance to see Taj in a moonlit night? Here also, boat rides are available in the night – under flood lights – as well.

To Madan Mahal 

My next destination was Rani Durgavati Fort. From Bedaghat another auto took me to Madan Mahal. Here, I didn’t see any trace - sign board, photo graphs etc – of Durgavati fort. Unfortunately, I was not at all able to recall the Hindi word for ‘Fort’ – ‘Kila’ – so people were wondering, whenever they hear Fort. Suddenly one guy asked - do you mean ‘Rani Durgavati Kila’?
“You have to travel in that way (pointing towards the way I just came in) and take a left; it’s on the top of a hill”
“Thank you”

I was not in a mood to climb any hill in that afternoon. Madan Mahal railway station was very close, so I walked towards it and sat on a lonely chair. After some time, a small girl probably 8-10 years old, came and sat next to me. Later her father came, put her on his lap, and sat on the same chair. I slowly looked here and there; suddenly I saw a big picture of Bedaghat, Dhuvanthar, Rani Durgavati Fort pasted in the wall. This time checked with the person sitting next to me; well, he didn’t disappoint me.

Rani Durgavati Fort

From Madan Mohan Chowk, I got another shared auto to Sharada Mandir – just 5 INR. After 10 minutes, driver told – “Sharada Mandir”. On left side there was a way going towards the fort, it is indeed on the top of a hill. On the way to top there was an Engineering college – apparently all the guys in that college seem to have a bike. Here I met another guy, who was also travelling in the same direction. Next in line on the left was a balancing rock. After showing me the path to fort he left. Following signboards I moved up through the steps.

Warning for young couples
At one place there was an interesting warning painted on nearby rocks – “Is kshetra ke paas ladka ladki ka bitna evam aapath janak sthithi mem bitna sakth mana hei. Paaye jaane par sakth karyavahi hogi” (Boys and girls sitting close to each other or sitting in a dangerous position is strictly prohibited. If found in such a situation, strict action will take against them). 

I can bet that, whoever wrote the message must have spent a good time searching for a word and finally settled for dangerous. I couldn’t stop laughing after reading the lines – especially “’sitting in a dangerous position”’!!!

After climbing a lot more steps, I finally reached fort. There was nothing much to see, other than a portion of fort on top a big rock; and a block some 30 meters away from this rock but in the opposite direction. Here, I met the Chhattisgarh family again; they recognised me and enquired about my journey. They were relieved to hear that, I finally made to Bedaghat. I was more than happy to say that, I made it for just 30 INR. In fact, they hired omni for a journey across important locations in Jabalpur for 700 INR – not a bad deal while travelling with family.

From the top of the fort, one can see entire Jabalpur city – a beautiful view – but, you can’t see this fort from there. This was one main reason to construct the fort here in the first place. After spending some time sniffing the fragrance of history, I went back to the city. Sarada Mandir is close to the fort.

History of Jabalpur

On the way back, I thought about Jabalpur. Till 675 AD, this region was ruled by Paramar dynasty, later it was taken over by Raja Bamraj Dev of Kalachuri dynasty. Gondas conquered the territory in 13th century - Madanshai, Sangramsahi, Rani Durgavati were the famous rulers among Gondas. Later in 1560’s Mughal forces under the command of Khwaja Abdul Majeed Harawi conquered the region. In the historical ‘Battle of Narri’ in 1564, Rani Durgavati and many of her associates – including her prime minister- made supreme sacrifice. Under the umbrella of Mughal Empire, Gond administrators continued to rule and maintained a practical independence until the rise of Marathas.

In 1781, Maratha governors of Sagar conquered the region. Seven years later Peshwa granted Nerbuddah valley to Bhonsle kings of Nagpur. This arrangement lasted till British defeated Marathas in 1818. Jabalpure (then Jabbalgarh and later Jubbulpore) got a cantonment and developed into commission HQ of Saugor and Nerbudda. This place was notorious for Thugee murderers and Major Sleeman (Later Chief commissioner of Jabalpure, British resident at Lucknow) who suppressed thugs.

1857 uprising tremble this city as well. In June 16, 1857 Gadadhar Tiwari fired on his European superiors and ignited the movement. Locally spearheaded by Gond Raja Shankarsahi and Prince Raghunathsahi uprising lasted for four months. These two leaders were later arrested. In 1861, Saugor and Nerbudda Territories became part of Central Provinces - which in 1903 became ‘Central Provinces and Berar’. Afterwards Jubbulpore became the HQ of a brigade in 5th division of Southern Army as well.

Mahatma Gandhi called on Jabalpure during Independence Movement. In 1933, Gandhi was accompanied by J Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Ravishankar Shukla, Dr Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari, Khurshed Nariman, Abul Kalam Azad, Jamnalal Bajaj, Dr Syed Mahmud, Mahadev Desai etc and congregations were organised at Beohar palace. Tripuri Congress session of 1939 also saw the ideological differences in Congress and witnessed the exit (Bose resigned later and formed Forward Bloc) of then Congress president Subhas Chandra Bose from the party.

Rani Durgavati Museum

It was very hard to find this building. I checked with many people, most of them were not aware about the presence of such a building in the city. All I know was museum is not far from bus stand. Finally, one old person told me the route. ‘Go straight, you will find a petrol pump. Museum is close it’. I reached the petrol pump, but they were not aware about museum. Again I had to walk back and forth without reaching anywhere. Tired and thirsty, finally I dropped the plan and went for a plate of pani-puri. After having two full plates, I walked towards bus stand.

As a last attempt, I raised the museum question in one more store as well. One of their customers finally gave the correct path. So back to petrol pump again, next to it there was an under construction road. Finally, I could see ‘Rani Durgavati Museum’ written on a board on top of a building in Blue colour in both English and Hindi. Please note that, photography is permitted inside the museum.

Inside, there were a number of Galleries – Shiva, Vishnu, Jain, Apsara, Inscriptions, 64 Yogini, coin, adivasi etc.

Back at Railway station

It was the time for museum to close, so I went outside and walked towards bus stand. It’s private bus stand; there were only two direct buses to Kanha – one will start at 7.00 in the morning and other one at 12.30 in the afternoon. In short, I have to spend the night in Jabalpur itself. Well, I took another shared auto to Railway station – my home for the night. Jabalpur municipal building is located in this road. Auto dropped me in other side of the station, this newly build portion was indeed big and offers bus connectivity.

By the way, I have to tell something about bus service. I discussed about the quality and availability of intercity buses, to a guy I met on my way to Rani Durgavati Fort. He told, “a lot of buses are there especially to medical college”. But, I couldn’t see more than 3-4 red coloured, fully crowded, buses near to bus stand; two in the railway station; and probably one or two on my way to Bedaghat. As far as I can say availability of buses for intercity travel is very much limited. Citizens have to rely on private vehicles, shared autos etc. A Lot of people are going to Bedghat every day, but I couldn’t see a proper public transport infrastructure in place. Roads are good, but people can’t walk all the way to destination, right?

It’s just after the sunset; I slowly walked towards station entrance, bought one platform ticket and went inside. After having some water and hot tea, rest of the two hours were spent in roaming around. Many trains come and went. Entire railway machinery was in non-stop motion. I just checked the time again, only 10 minutes left in my platform ticket. So I walked back to front entrance and joined with numerous other people sitting in the chair, waiting for the train. Difference was – I am not at all waiting for any train. Using a platform ticket of 5 INR, you can spend only 2 hours in platform. However, you can buy a general ticket for a nearby station and spend almost one day in the platform.

The Guy from Kolkata

I spent four more hours by reading papers and books coupled with some sleep in between. Clock hit one in the morning. Finally, there was some slot in the plug board to charge my mobile and camera. One guy came and sat next to me. Slowly we started talking, first about general things and then about Calcutta; he was in Jabalpure on a business visit. When he came to know that, I am a traveller – he advised me to visit Calcutta. Even I liked to visit this old Capital of British India and the biggest city in East India. He started describing about the facilities in Calcutta, exaggerating the things.

He: “In Kolakata we count everything in lakhs. There are one lakh buses, two lakh four wheelers, three lakh autos, five lakh rikshaws...”
Me: “oho”
He: “There are 90 crores people living in the city”. [This was more than I could digest].
Me: “In entire India there were around 124 Crores people only. How could Kolkata have 94 Crores?”
Some minutes passed, in between I checked whether mobile was fully charged or not.
He: “Kolkata have a population 19 Crores” (I don’t remember whether he told 19 or 24).
Me: “Entire UP has a population of 19 Crores and that is the biggest state in India, not West Bengal” (again some more time lapsed)

Finally he brought down the number to 8 Crores. Again the problem remained the same, Mumbai city’s population is much lower than 8 Crores, but that is considered as the biggest city in India.

In fact according to numbers, Kolkata Metropolitan area ranked third with a population of 1.46 crores and Kolkata city ranked 7th with a population of 44.86 lakh. Later, we simply moved to other topics - about his business, its networks in India, his ambitions etc. Time was around 3 in the morning; both camera and mobile cells were fully charged. Adjusting my position in the chair, I slept for 2 full hours.

To Kanha

Around five in the morning I woke up, temperature was roaming around 10 degree Celsius. Boarded the first bus parked in front of railway station and bought a ticket to bus stand; unfortunately I reached there too early. After having tea, from a movable stall in front of the bus stand, I simply roamed around. Finally went to the counter and bought a ticket to Kanha – 140 INR. Here all - bus drivers, conductors etc were very friendly.

Finally, the bad news came. Direct bus to Kanha broke down yesterday night and the morning schedule was cancelled. One person in Kakki dress advised me to go in a Madla bus. “From Mandla you will get busses to Kanha”. He even helped to refund the ticket and showed the Mandla bus as well.

Finally, I boarded a bus to Mandla (Jabalpur to Mandla – 69 INR). Good Bye Jabalpur.


Main attractions in and around the city are,

1. Bheda Ghat Marble gorges
2. Walk towards Chausat Yogini Temple
3. Dhuandhar waterfall
4. Madan Mahal Rani Durgavati Fort
5. Durgavati museum
6. Bargi Dam (constructed on Narmada River, located on NH 7 [Jabalpur – Nagpur] around 40-45 kms from city).
7. The Dumna Nature Reserve (spread over 1048 hectres of land, located on the way to Dumna Airport, some 10km from city centre)

Various sculptures in the museum
For reading rest of the articles please visit,

Dakshinayana Part One – An Introduction
Dakshinayana Part Two – Bangalore to Bhopal
Dakshinayana Part Three – Sanchi
Dakshinayana Part Four – Bhopal: The city of lakes
Dakshinayana Part Five: Ujjain – The Holy City, hearing the sounds of forefathers
Dakshinayana Part Six: Indore – Trade hub of Central India
Dakshinayana Part Seven – Jabalpur: Kalchuris, Gonds and Narmada
Dakshinayana Part Eight – Kanha National Park and Mandla
Dakshinayana Part Nine – Chhattisgarh and Raipur
Dakshinayana Part Ten: Nagpur – The Orange City
Dakshinayana Part Eleven – Sevagram: Walking with Gandhi
Dakshinayana Part Twelve – Aurangabad: The City of Gates
Dakshinayana Part Thirteen – Ellora Memories
Dakshinayana Part Fourteen – U shaped Ajanta
Dakshinayana Part Fifteen – Pune: The Maratha heartland

Friday, February 22, 2013

Alerts!!! and Hyderabad twin bomb blasts

"Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde had on Thursday said all states were alerted about a possible terror strike by militant groups. However, Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy had said those were general alerts which often keep coming from the Centre."

Genuinely confused; I have to check the meaning of 'General' and 'Specific' in a dictionary.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Upendra Nath Brahmachari - A pioneer in Medicine

Upendra Nath Brahmachari

It was a shocking discovery - last medicine invented by an Indian was way back in 1929.

This article is about one of pineers in medicine in India Upendra Nath Brahmachari (December 19, 1873–February 6, 1946), who invented 'Urea Stibamine' for the treatment of Kala Azar (aka 'Visceral leishmaniasis'). He was nominated for Nobel Prize in 1939 for his contributions in the field of  Physiology and Medicine in the year 1929.

The article metioned below is a reproduction of Upendra Nath Brahmachari's story from an article in Vigyan Prasar, Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, with permission.

Upendra Nath Brahmachari (December 19, 1873–February 6, 1946)

“As a matter of the most vital concern in nation-building, the problem of nutrition demands very careful consideration by statesmen and scientists alike, more so due to the fact, as has been recently observed, that a great part of the world’s population is not consuming the necessary food stuff. An eminent Swiss authority predicts the decay of civilization unless there is a fundamental revision of the people’s diet.

--- Upendra Nath Brahmachari in his General Presidential address to the Indian Science Congress (1936).

“Dr. Brahmachari has been the President of the Asiatic Society of Bengal for three times; has done extensive research in connection with tropical diseases such as malaria, blackwater fever etc., and as a research worker enjoys international reputation; recognized as a leading expert on Kala-azar in particular, in the treatment of which he has achieved remarkable success with his `Urea Stibanmine’ which he discovered; has earned a name in philanthropy; is one of the most eminent physicians in Calcutta and is held in esteem also by laymen of all communities.”

-- The then Viceroy of British India at Brahmachari’s Investure of Knighthood

Upendra Nath Brahmachari was a leading medical practitioner of India of his time. His monumental discovery of Urea Stibamine, an organic antimonial compound, played a crucial role in the treatment of and campaign against Kala-Azar. His “Treatise on Kala-azar” is a premier work on the subject. As a teacher and educationist his work was of a high order. He was associated with almost all the known scientific and literary organizations at Kolkata. He had an insatiable thirst for knowledge. He had large private collection of books, which included not only scientific works but also literary works. Brahmachari was a remarkable personality.

Upendra Nath Brahmachari was born in Jamalpore, in the Monghyr district of Bihar to Dr. Nilmony Brahmachari and Smt. Sourav Sundari Devi. His official date of birth was June 07, 1875. However it has been reported that Brahmachari, in his later life mentioned his actual date of birth 19 December, 1873. In those days Jamalpore was an important railway town of the then East Indian Railways. His father was a medical man and served the East India Railways at Jamalpore. As a physician he was very successful. Dr. Nilmony’s name was a household word at Jamalpore. He was a highly respected figure in both the European and Indian communities. After his retirement from the services of the railways Dr. Nilmony became a Municipal Commissioner and an Honorary Magistrate of Jamalpore.

The title Brhamachari has a little history. A person who lives a life of celibacy is called Brahmachari. It was Keshav Bharati who had initiated Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu into Sanyas. Keshav Baharati himself had taken Sanyas under the Bharati sect of Sri Shankaracharya. Thus he had no descendants of his own. Keshav’s elder brother Gopal had taken deeksha from him. Gopal renounced his family title of Mukhopadhyaya and became known as Gopal Bharati Brahmachari Thakur. Brahmachari’s ancestors were descendants of Gopal Bharati Brahmachari, he being in the ninth line of descent.

Brahmachari had his early education at the Eastern Railways Boys’ High School at Jamalpore. After passing his Entrance Examination from Jamalpore with credit, Brahmachari joined the Hooghly College, from where he passed his BA in 1893, with Honours in Mathematics and Chemistry. In those days it was possible for a student to appear in two honours subjects. Brahmachari stood first in order of merit in Mathematics in his BA examination and awarded the Thwyates Medal. Though Brahmachari loved Mathematics deeply and had shown great proficiency in the subject, he decided to join the Calcutta Medical College and the Presidency College at Kolkata (then Calcutta) for studying Medicine and Chemistry respectively. He passed his M.A. degree with First Class in Chemistry from the Presidency College in 1894.

He was taught chemistry by Sir Alexander Pedler and Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray. Brahmachari was greatly influenced by Acharya Ray. Brahmachari also pursued his medical career with equal diligence. He obtained his L.M.S degree in 1899 and in the next year he took the MB degree. In his MB Examination Brahmachari stood First in Medicine and in Surgery and for which he was awarded Goodeve and McLeod Medals. In 1902 he obtained the MD degree of the Calcutta University. In those days it was a rare distinction. He also obtained Ph.D. degree of the Calcutta University for his researches in Physiology. His thesis was titled Studies in Haemolysis, a work, which even today is considered an important piece of work on physiological and physiochemical properties of the Red Blood Cells.

After a firm grounding in Mathematics, Chemistry, Physiology and modern Medicine, Brahmachari joined the Provincial Medical Service in September 1899. For a brief period he worked as the House Physician in the Ward of the First Physician Sir Gerald Bomford’s. Sir Bomford was highly impressed with young Brahmachari’s urge for carrying out research and his strong sense of duties. Bomford got Brahmachari appointed as Teacher of Physiology and Materia Medica and Physician in Dacca Medical School in November 1901. He spent about four years at Dacca. During this short period he had established himself as an excellent teacher, a medical practitioner and a consultant. He also did researches with Sir Neil Campbell, Superintendent of the Medical School.

After coming back to Kolkata in 1905, Brahmachari joined the Campbell Medical School (now renamed as Nil Ratan Sarkar Medical College and Hospital) as the Teacher of Medicine and First Physician. The most important part of his life was spent at the Campbell Medical School, where he spent 20 years. In 1923 Brahmachari joined the Medical College, Kolkata as Additional Physician. It may be noted here that Brahmachari and Lt. Col. K. K. Chatterjee were the first two Provincial Medical Service men outside Indian Medical service cadre, to get appointments in the Medical College. Lt. Col. Chatterjee had joined as Additional Surgeon. Brahmachari retired from the Government Service at the Medical College in 1927. After retirement from the Government service Brahmachari joined the Carmichael Medical College as Professor of Tropical Diseases. He also served the National Medical Institute as In-charge of its Tropical Disease Ward. He also became the Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Hony. Professor of Biochemistry at the University College of Science, Kolkata.

Brahmachari’s most outstanding research contribution was in the field of conquest of Kala-Azar (a Hindi term for black fever), a protozoal infection in both children and adults. The disease Kala-azar (Visceral leishmaniasis) was described by William Leishman and Charles Donovan in 1903. Kala-azar is also known as Leishman-Donovan infection. Kala-azar is an infectious disease of South Asian and Mediterranean countries. The protozoan parasite that causes the disease is called Leishmania donovani. The disease is transmitted by sand flies and it is characterised by an enlarged spleen and liver, irregular fever, anemia etc. Though various forms of treatment were in vogue but they did not help to reduce the death rate. In 1913, a Brazilian doctor named Vianna reported to have cured the South American form of Kala-azar by the intra-venous administration of tartar emetic (potassium salt of antimonyl tartrate). Then in 1915 Christina and Cortina of Sicily also recorded the successful use of tartrate emetic in infantile Kala-azar. Rogers in Calcutta also obtained favourable results in 1915, by the intra-venous use of tartar emetic. However, physicians soon found that there were serious disadvantages in the prolonged use of tartar emetic intravenously.

Brahmachari decided to improve the results over tartar emetic by using the sodium salt of antimonyl tartrate instead of the potassium salt. By doing this Brahmachari thought that he would avoid the depressant action of potassium and so he would get better results. He did get better results and used sodium antimonyl tartrate for years. It was found later that prolonged use of the sodium salt had also disadvantages. Brahmachari started using metallic antimony—first as fine powder and then as colloidal antimony. Both forms of antimony used by Brahmachari gave good results but they had the following disadvantages:

i. They were not readily available.
ii. As they could not be stored for a long time they had to be prepared afresh every time.
iii. The method of their preparation was tedious.
iv. The technique of their intravenous administration was quite complicated.

Seeing these disadvantages Brahmachari continued his search for a more efficient means of treatment of Kala-azar. Around this time Ehrlich was successful in treating sleeping sickness by using atoxyl or sodium salt of para-arsanilic acid. Brahmachari decided to replace arsenic of atoxyl by antimony and then use this compound for treatment of Kalaazar. Antimony was the causative agent and both arsenic and antimony belong to the same group of the Periodic Table. There were other people who were working on the similar idea. Towards the end of 1919 Brahmachari received a grant from the Indian Research Fund Association for conducting further research into the treatment of the disease. He carried out his research work in a small ill-equipped room in the Campbell Hospital. He did not have even simple facilities like a gas burner, a water tap or an electric bulb. Working under such adverse conditions Brahmachari discovered a potent agent against Kala-azar, which he named Urea Stibamine. It was the urea salt of para-amino-phenyl stibnic acid. Recalling the moment of his important discovery he later wrote: “I recall with joy that memorable night in the banished from India and other parts of the world where it occurs. That will be happiest and proudest day of my life if it falls to my lot to see it.”

Urea Stibamine was a great success in treating Kalaazar. In 1932, Col. H. E. Short, Director, Kala-azar Commission, appointed by the Government of India stated: “We found Urea Stibamine an eminently safe and reliable drug and in seven years we treated some thousands of cases of Kala-azar and saw thousands more treated in treatment centers. The acute fulminating type characteristic of the peak period of an epidemic responds to treatment extraordinarily promptly and with an almost dramatic cessation of fever, diminution in the size of spleen and return to normal condition of health.” Today the incidence of Kala-azar has drastically reduced in India and other parts of the world. There are occasional or sporadic cases here and there. Today Kalaazar persists only in very poor and remote areas.

Though mostly known for his brilliant work on Kala-azar, Brahmachari worked on other diseases like Malaria, Black- Water Fever, Cerebrospinal Meningitis, Diabetes, Filariasis, Influenza, Leprosy, and Syphilis. He published about 150 research papers. Brahmachari was the first to discover the presence of Qurtartan Fever in Kolkata and Dhaka. This disease was considered to be very rare. Crombie, the President of the Indian Medical Congress (1894) stated in his Presidential Address that he had met only one case in his whole experience in India. Brahmachari, after a most exhaustive and critical survey of the vast literature on the Old Burdwan Fever, concluded that the disease was a combination of two diseases namely malaria and Kala-azar. He published his conclusion in his paper, “On the nature of the epidemic fever in Lower Bengal commonly known as Burdwan Fever” published in the Indian Medical Gazette in 1911. Brahmachari had shown that in Black-water Fever the largest amount of haemolysis occurred in the liver during the active stage of the disease. He also prepared an antihaemolytic solution of quinine for treatment of cases of black-water fever whose blood showed the presence of malarial parasites.

In his Presidential Address to the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1930 Brahmachari said: “When I recall to my mind that I had the privilege of teaching and examining many hundreds of medical students in Medicine, and remember the raw and restive youths to whom I lectured, and then look around and see the resulting product, I feel with Sir Ernest Rutherford that a transformation has occurred that is much more wonderful than the transformation of radium and must have involved much more energy in the process…India, the seat of earliest civilization of man, is regaining the healthy state that she must have enjoyed in the days of old. Diseases which for many centuries were considered incurable and destroyed millions of human lives in India, are now losing their terrors.”

Brahmachari was actively connected in various spheres in the University of Calcutta for nearly 40 years. He was Fellow of the Calcutta University since the beginning of the Universities Act 1904. He was a member of the Senate, the Calcutta Campbell Hospital at Sealdah where after a very hard day’s work I found at about 10 o’clock in a little room with a smoky dimly burning lantern that the results of my experiments were up to my expectations. But I did not know then that providence had put into my hands a wondrous thing and that this little thing would save the lives of millions of fellowmen.

I shall never forget that room where Urea Stibamine was discovered. The room where I had to labour for months without a gas point or a water tap and where I had to remain contented with an old kerosene lamp for my work at night. The room still remains but the signs of a laboratory in it have completely disappeared. To me it will ever remain a place of pilgrimage where the first light of Urea Stimamine dawned upon my mind.

To-day Urea Stibamine stands pre-eminent in the treatment of Kala-azar in India and as a powerful prophylactic against the disease. And it is a matter of supreme satisfaction to me that the treatment evolved out of my research has removed the terrors of this distressing disease. It may be hoped that before long the disease will be completely Syndicate and Boards of Studies of Medicine and of Science of the Calcutta University. He was also the Dean of the Faculty of the Medicine (1938) and Dean of Faculty of Science (1938-40). He was a Active Member in the Rules Revision Committee responsible for framing the University Regulations from the beginning of the Universities Act 1904.

Around 1924, Brahmachari had established a research institute in his own residence in Cornwallis Street, Kolkata. This institute was later converted into a Partnership concern with his sons Phanindra Nath and Nirmal Kumar. Under his guidance the Institute did remarkably well both in the fields of research and manufacture. Unfortunately the institute stopped functioning in 1963 and the nation lost a legacy of one of its great sons.

Brahmachari took keen interest in humanitarian and cultural activities. He played an important part in the formation of a Blood Bank at Calcutta. He was the Chairman of the Blood Transfusion Service of Bengal. He was the Vice President of the St. John Ambulance Association of the Bengal branch and also its President. He was the Chairman of the Managing Body of the Indian Red Cross Society of the Bengal Branch. In fact he happened to be its first Indian Chairman. He was a member of the Sanitary Board of Bengal. He was the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Indian Museum.

He was a charitable person. He made generous donations. Among the public institutions which received donations from Brahmachari are: The Indian Red Cross Society, The Blood Bank at Kolkata, the University of Calcutta, the Jadavpur Tuberculosis Sanatorium, the Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute, the Physiological Society of India, Calcutta Medical College, the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Indian Science Congress, Vicerroy’s Earthquake Relief Fund, Lady Jackson’s Darjeeling Victoria Hospital Fund, and Board of Industries of Bengal. There was hardly any hospital in India that did not get free gift of his Urea Stibamine. He sold urea stibamine to the government at his cost price. He had made provisions for several awards, scholarships and medals for the University of Calcutta. Many people do not know that the journal “Science and Culture” could be initiated because of a generous donation from Brahmachari. He generously contributed to the High School in Purbasthali near his ancestral home. The name of of the institution was later changed in the name of his father as Purbasthali Nilmoy Brahmachari Institution.

Among the various honours that he received included: the Griffith Memorial Prize of Calcutta University; the Minto Medal of the School of Tropical Medicine & Hygien; the Kaiser-I-Hind Gold Medal; the Sir William Jones Medal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. He was felicitated and honoured by various medical and scientific bodies. He was: President, Indian Association of the cultivation of Science; Calcutta; President, society of Biological Chemists; President, Indian Committee of International Microbiological Congress, Paris; President, Physiological Society of India; President, Indian Science Congress; President, Asiatic Society of Bengal; President, Indian Science News Association, Calcutta; President, Indian Provincial Medical Service Association; Fellow, Royal Society of Medicine, London; Fellow, Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, London; Hony. Fellow International Faculty of Science, London; Fellow National Institute of Sciences of India (Later renamed Indian National Science Academy).

The then British Government recognized the importance of Brahmachari’s work. He was awarded the title of Rai Bahadur for his multifarious, humanitarian and other works. He was knighted in 1914.

He was a very good host. He used to love to entertain people. Lancet in its March 09, 1946 issue wrote: “In his large house in Calcutta, Brahmachari delighted to entertain his British and Indian friends. The fare was always good and the conversation even better. If all distinguished Indians, and for that matter all British officials, had shared his liberal outlook, many of the difficulties of India today would have been solved before they have time to develop.”

Brahmachari died on February 06, 1946.

Some Important works by Upendra Nath Brahamcarhy

1. Studies in Haemolysis, Calcutta University, 1909.
2. Kala-Azar : Its treatment, Butterworth & Co. Ltd. Calcutta 1917.
3. Kala-Azar in Doctor Carl Mense’s Handbuch der Tropenkranahaiten, vol. IV, 1926.
4. Treatise on Kala-Azar, John Bale, Son’s & Danielsson Ltd., London, 1928.
5. Campaign against Kala-Azar in India, Jubilee Publication on the 80th birthday of Dr. Prof. Bernhard Nocht, Hamburg, 1937.
6. Progress of Medical Research work in India during the last 25 years, an progress of Science in India, during the past 25 years, Indian Science Congress Association 1938.
7. Gleanings from my Researchers Vol. I, Calcutta University 1940
8. Gleanings from my Researchers Vol. II Calcutta University 1941
9. Infantile Biliary Cirrhosis in India in British Encyclopedia of Medical practice. Edited by Sir Humphrey Rolleston



1. Upendra Nath Brahmachari - A Pioneer of Modern Medicine in india - Vigyan Prasar, Ministry of Science and Technology, GOI
2. Upendra Nath Brahmachari
3. Effect of ureastibamine on Leishmania donovani amastigote - NCBI
4. Gazette Issue 34056 published on the 1 June 1934 - London Gazatte
5. Primary and secondary education reform should be the top priority for india- Current News