A brief interview with Probir Ghosh
by Sagar Das on 13.3.19, at Dum Dum Kolkata.
Sagar (Q): “Our guest for today is Mr. Probir Ghosh, a renowned writer, and a proclaimed agitator and a key person for rationalist and humanist movement in India. Ghosh has contributed most of his life to rebel against the ill practices rising through the superstitions in the society and over time he built up a huge team of change makers. Meeting him reminds me of my school days when I got lucky enough to work alongside this great of a person for a short period of time, and that was the very time my interest to work in the field of media arose within me.
In this interview, I will be discussing with Probir Da and we will learn about his childhood, his teenage and his journey of becoming what he is. We will also talk about the current and upcoming revolutionary movements in society and politics, about Kashmir, about the central government and the West Bengal Government.”
Q: So my first question is, let us know about your childhoods when you move to ‘Adra’?
Probir Da: My childhood was free, I was born in Adra, (in Purulia district in the Indian state of West Bengal) mostly running out in huge fields wearing my half pants and my loose banyans, and I use to play a lot. Our village stores never sold any kind of sweets; not Sandesh, nor Rasgulla. Back then, we only got ‘Bonde’ and ‘Laddoos’ made of it, that is the only kind of sweet that is still found at my village.
Q: Was your faith in the God; existing in your childhood, or you had been questioning the existence even back then?
Prabir: I majorly changed when I move to Adra. I use to live in a railway community and the people around there mostly spoke Tamil and Telugu. Every evening a spiritual guru or two would appear and showed there basic magical abilities to children like me, gifting them with a token of sweets. I use to refuse, I use to offer them with a Jack fruit instead. I use to have a miracle in answer for the miracle they showed. That is how I learn to question the established god men.
Q: Tell us about 1985 when you gave the rationalist movement a proper form, how these all started?
Prabir : It was the time before radio or television. We had a team of 3-4 people, me, Seema, who is no more now, and Pinaki. (‘Seema’: Prabir’s life partner and co-fighter who passed away few days before the Interview). Seema, used to sing, I would perform my magic tricks along with Pinaki. That was our group, but over the time, our organization (Science and Rationalist Association of India) got huge.
Q: I know the organization grew extremely huge by 1995-2000, how big is it now?
Prabir : It has definitely gone smaller now, but it is working well. Across Jalpaigudi, Siligudi, Maynaguri (Northern Bengal) it is expanded around eventually.
Q: Do you think the inclination towards superstition has reduced along with time? Maybe because you and people like you worked hard, or were it because people around have grown up eventually?
Prabir: Yes, it has reduced massively along with time. And I am glad that it did.
Q: What do you think are the reasons behind the drop of such superstitious practices?
Prabir: One reason could be us, or people like us. We have challenged every miracle and superstition. We have challenged the ill beliefs not just within boundaries, but in foreign countries as well.
(Know more about the Rs. 50,00,000/- challenge)
Q: what would you like to share about the case Monica Besra’s tumor healing by the prayers of Mother Teresa?
Prabir: It was levied that the tumor of the lady got cured by placing a picture of Mother Teresa over her belly. Mother Teresa herself was not one of those people who would believe in such myths. But few unhealthy minds tried to earn money under her name, way after her death. Along with the team of BBC, this woman Monica Besra came to highlights. I knew she was a practicing Christian, so I offered her flowers and had couple of good words with her. Asked her where she lived and everything, she mentioned, she belongs to DumDum. I said, I was from Gora Bazaar area of Dum Dum too, so she got scared away. So I went to Raiganj and discovered that along with Monica Besra a huge team was responsible for the fraudulent
Q: Didn’t Mother Teresa get her sainthood after this case, what response was given by your organization?
Prabir: We condemned the action strongly. The news was hyped by a reputed organization as BBC and the news was broadcasted around the world.
Q: Along with the movement against paranormal and god men of the contemporary world, your organization also aimed to work and influence in political sector of India, would you talk about it?
Prabir: As an influence to the mass, all we and our organization ever wanted was to build a healthy society where the people believed in truth, reality and common sense. We have not just worked, but have used our immense efforts to make possible changes.
Q: Your inclination is into the left liberal, yet you were hardly showed solidarity with the former ruler of West Bengal; left wing political organizations (CPIM and Left front), what is the reason behind it?
Prabir: Because I felt that the left wing representatives are not following the principals and practices they suppose to follow, and they are not the true leftist organization at all.
Q: In 2007, during a study class you openly stated that – “CPIM must go, and rest will be easy to handle by Mamta Banerjee”. What do you think about the consequences after these (12) years?
(Also) What kind of improvement do you think in the sector of education and health improvement has been made by the TMC (Trinamul Congress Party of West Bengal) in this decade?
Prabir: CPIM party of West Bengal had to go, because it was up to no good. It was not acting the way it should have so it was a right decision to let them go. The current state government is equally culprit, they haven’t indulged in any real work, but they keep cursing about the mistakes that had been done last Govt. With no development in education and what so ever, both of them are equally culprits.
Q: Do you think the CPIM party might return to power in Bengal? Will there be any attempt to form a new political wing evoke out of your organization?
Prabir: The left is not coming back in near future. Surely we are work in that direction, am talking about self-grown food, self-managed water, electricity by hocking from power grid and a self-ruled Swambhar village, a Swambhar village where everything is self-depended from the water to electricity, everything.
Q: As per my encounter with commoners of Sonbhadra area (UP), the Naxalites don’t let the government operate, serve and support in villages by force, and mislead the poor villagers that Govt. doesn’t care about them! – How do you explain this situation?
Prabir: Not at all, I don’t know much about Sonbhadra and I don’t have any clue about any operations there.
Are these Swambhar groups similar to the Naxalites? Do they use gun power to operate?
No Swambhar groups are different; they use the gun if really necessary. If the military attacks, should we sit idle and watch?
Q: Isn’t creating a red zone or militia and not letting a government work make them equal to the militant groups?
Prabir: they are different, militant groups attack others, but the Swambhar groups will even take help of government in need. It’s just that, in a situation of attack they wouldn’t sit mum.
Q: what do you think about the central government and their efforts in development of the country these days?
Prabir: they are disgusting; their initiatives are bad, they implemented demonetization as it was a like butter over a bread otherwise nothing productive has been done.
Q: What do you think about the destiny of Kashmir?
P: Kashmir is a free place it was a free place and I would wish it stays free and beautiful as it is.
Q: Do you think there are possibilities of war (India-Pakisthan)? Do you think the congress might be helpful to prevent the war, or it would be Modi who makes a change?
Prabir: War is possible; India was always under such threat. Modi is incompetent of doing anything. Talking about his physical strength and his 56 inches of chest doesn’t make the country any better. The Congress as per their experience might work slightly better the current government.
Q: What do you think will happen to Kashmir if the ‘UN elections’ rally take place?
Prabir: If the UN elections would be held with complete transparency, there is no power in the world that can stop Kashmir from being independent. By independent I mean, an independent country with its own ruling party, set of rules, a prime minister and a president and no chaos.
Q: What would be your message to the young children of today?
Prabir: Children never stay children forever; they are the people who will influence the future. To be influential; they have to believe in what they learn themselves by their experience not depending upon what they are told by other people like me and you. So, I would like to suggest that the children must challenge their strength, question whatever is taught to them. I would also suggest them to stay away from the religions and religious perspectives. The religions are like cancer which ruin the fragile minds and don’t let them develop to their full potential.
Q: Thank you for this interview.
Prabir: it was nice talking to you.
During this shortly called interview; main audio recording failed due to some unexpected technical problem, Team Rosehub decided to publish the video interview in form of old school press article. Though the original interview is available here, only a tedious Bengali can go through it.