On 5th February Prabha Khaitan Foundation in association with Ehsaas women of Kolkata, The Taj Bengal and Shree Cement Ltd. organized a virtual session of An Author’s Afternoon with Mr. Abhay Kumar. Mr Kumar has authored nine poetry collections, most recently of ‘The Alphabets of Latin America’, and the editor of ‘The Bloomsbury Book of Great Indian Love Poems’, ‘CAPITALS’, ‘The Bloomsbury Anthology of Great Indian Poems’ and ‘New Brazilian Poems’. His poems have been published in several literary journals including ‘Poetry Salzburg Review’ and Asian Literary Review.’ His ‘Earth Anthem’ has been translated into over 50 languages. He received SAARC Literary Award 2013 and was invited to record his poems at the Library of Congress, Washington DC in 2018.
Abhay Kumar is India’s 21st Ambassador to Madagascar and Ambassador to Comoros, he has also served in different diplomatic capacities earlier in Russia, Nepal and Brazil
The session was introduced by Ehsaas Woman of Kolkata, Nilisha Agarwal, Mr. Abhay Kumar was in conversation with Ehsaas Woman of Chennai Ms. Vidya Gajapathi Raju.
Mr. Abhay Kumar hails from Nalanda, Bihar, he has very close witnessed the tourist spots like Rajgir, Nalanda and Bodh Gaya during his growing up years, he was always fascinated by the life and story of the Chinese traveler
‘Hiuen Tsang’, who came to study Buddhism at Nalanda. Hiuen Tsang translated Buddhist text into Mandarin, ancient Indian History is traced from his contributions. All these travel stories inspired Mr. Kumar joined the ‘Indian foreign Services’, and traveled the world. He studied Geography at Delhi University and then went on to study further at JNU which was then followed by IFS.
His first service as a diplomat was at Moscow in the year 2005, he learnt the Russian language while studying at the Moscow State University. The first book he wrote was in the year 2007, which is a memoir of the first 25 years of his life which holds the perfect blend of family and democracy. He started writing poetries while at Moscow, he used to write blogs during that time but writing as a career option was not there, his first poetry collection is ‘Enigmatic Love’, poems from ‘Fairytale City of Moscow’ was added to the collection which ended up in being published as a book. He ends up writing a memoir for each place he visits. In 2010 he wrote ‘The Seduction of Delhi’ which contains poems about different places and people of Delhi.
Mr. Abhay Kumar is India’s youngest ambassador, who enjoys his Nomadic life of travelling, he loves life, started painting in Moscow, did exhibitions in Paris, Brazil, New Delhi and St. Petersburg artist soul exhibition.
Mr. Kumar was inspired by the book ‘Rashmi Rathi’ by ‘Ramadhari’ when he was in class IV, that book made him want to write poems, the book on Karna was musical and fascinating. According to him, it was his first encounter with diplomacy. The book and the topic always stayed there in his subconscious.
According to him Poetry and Diplomacy are like sisters in both cases people deal with words and both the aspects teach people to choose words very carefully.
He has also works as an editor with Bloomsbury , worked on 10 books with Bloomsbury, he mentioned that the most fascinating editing for him have been ‘Meghdoot’ and ‘Ritu Samahar’ although written three thousand years back, still has relevance from which he gained insights while translating. He added that as human beings emotions are going to stay the same even after 10 years.
He talked about being invited to the Library of Congress in October 2018 in Brazil, this has been a great encouragement for him.
Mr. Kumar talked about the “Earth Anthem” (2008) where he has written that ‘Earth is like an oasis in a cosmic desert’, which was played on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. He has now covered the whole solar system in writing anthems. He was awarded the SAARC literary award, which is a regional organization of the South Asian countries 2013, literature festival to acknowledge the contribution to the field of South Asian poetries.
Mr. Abhay Kumar is a Yoga enthusiast who has also modeled for various Yoga magazines, his upcoming books are Meghdoot (May 2021) and Ritu Samahar (October 2021).
He has been promoted to Grade 3, Joint Secretary, Government of India, he describes his life as a good balance of Poetry and Diplomacy, He likes to call himself as a Poet Diplomat as these are his vocation and profession which completes him.
Singh’s book ‘Batla House’ is centred around the controversial and famous encounter that took place in Delhi at the Batla House. The book starts from the first bomb blast that took place on 13 th September 2008. The bomb blasts were simultaneous in many places at the same time and were done by a terrorist group called the Indian Mujahidin. The terrorist group had done serial bomb blasts in over 14 places in Delhi and the police had been trying to find them since a long time. When they got the news of the group hiding in Batla House they went there to investigate where the shootings happened. Media spun the news saying that it was a fake encounter and that it was just done under the pressure. The media and the people put out rumours saying that the police officer that died was killed by his own team, however, when the forensic report came it was clear that the police officer had been killed by the terrorist group, the dead terrorists also had residue of gun powder on them that indicated that the shots had been fired by them. The police officer that had died was one of the most decorated police officer, Mohan Chand Sharma, it was his discovery that had led the team to Batla House. He had in his lifetime neutralised around 35 terrorists, received numerous medals and was also awarded the Ashok Chakra for bravery in the battle field after he had died. He was knowledge of both the technical and the human skills.
He said that the media is like the 4 th pillar of democracy and has the responsibility to make sure that they do not put out fake news out in the public domain. When the police investigate and presents the facts, it does in front of the court where the defence also has the right to fight and present the facts to the court, a judiciary body that is independent of the other pillars of the democracy. Whereas the media just presents the facts that they think is correct and frames a side, the other side has no right to defend themselves. The party that is declared guilty by the media become guilty in the eyes of the people and has no chance of redemption. The media must understand that they have a greater responsibility to refrain from showing the news that can leak sensitive information about the case and hamper the investigation. Media is like the 4 th pillar of democracy and has the power to sway the people in whatever side that they want to. The investigation teams must also be trained in what information should be shared and what should not be, as that can make or break the case.
Singh then said that sometimes the clues can be found easily whereas many times when dealing with terrorists finding clues that connect and make sense are difficult. The investigation agencies have to look for clues both on the scene and off the scene. The area has to be extensively swept for any evidence and the dump data, like the phones connected to the nearby tower, same phone present at different locations of crime. The data has to be looked through carefully as the evidence is hidden in them to crack the case.
When talked about the investigation that followed the encounter Singh mentioned that the team that has done the encounter is never a part of the investigation team, however since there is not one agency for looking into the encounters, the media and the people still claim that the teams are the same and hide facts that do not show the police in good light.
The two roles that Singh played were both of important as one dealt with the physical and internal security of the country whereas the other with the economy and social security of the country. Both these roles are fulfilling in their own way and give an immense sense of satisfaction knowing that one is doing something that will help the country be a better place in all aspects.
The conversation ended with Esha thanking Singh and Bhatia on an insightful conversation on the encounter that happened in Batla House and how the media had twisted the facts that were presented.