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MY STORY

I was born in a middle class Bengali family of Bhagalpur in Bihar in the year 1947, on 1 July, one-and-a-half months before India became independent. My father was an unsuccessful lawyer who ended up as a homeopath and through this earning he maintained his family of eight children, I being the youngest. As a homeopath he was kind to poorer people and had different rates for his medicines for patients belonging to different social strata, something I saw many years later in the famous Hrishikesh Mukherjee movie Anand in which one of main characters, a doctor, followed exactly the same humanitarian strategy in his profession. My mother was a kind hearted woman for whom to provide tasty and healthy food to her children and their overall welfare was her only concern. Like any child I too think my mother was the best cook ever born on this earth.

I understand that my family (great grandfather) had migrated to Bhagalpur from the Arambag subdivision of the Hoogli district about 400km away sometime in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Those days both Bhagalpur and Hoogli districts were in the Bengal Presidency and as such it was not a migration in the strict technical sense though actually it was. Later in my life this autobiographical point came handy to me to explain to my students about migration and its nuanced meaning. But since our family's movement was during the British period when communication system was systematically improving we could retain Bangla (Bengali) as our home language something which did not happen with those Bengali families that came to Bhagalpur like ours in the earlier centuries, during the period of Mughal Emperor Akbar. There is a fairly large Bengali community in Bhagalpur belonging to this category which does not speak Bengali in their homes.

My life started as Debi Prasad Ghosh. But while taking me to the school for admission (those days school admission was not a nightmare as it is now), may be in 1953, my father decided during our walk to the school to change my name to Partha Sarathy Ghosh because those days he was impressed by the journalist-cum-fledgling foreign policy analyst, G. Parthasarathi. In that sense my life had started on the right note, that is, with India's politics and diplomacy, my academic interest for the rest of my life.

There was nothing eventful during my school and university days although I was a good student, not brilliant. I studied at the then best school in Bhagalpur, C.M.S. (Church Missionary Society) School and the then the best college, T.N.B. (Tej Narayan Baneili) College. My masters education was at the University of Bhagalpur. Unlike most of my contemporary Bengali friends whose friend-circles used to be confined to the community, mine was a mixed bag drawn more from the Hindi-speaking Bihari community. No wonder I speak Hindi with the proficiency as if it is my mother tongue and always feel at home in with Biharis.


EDUCATION

My entire pre-Ph.D. education was in Bhagalpur. In 1969 I obtained my Masters in History and the Bachelor of Law degrees from the University of Bhagalpur. Following that I taught for almost two years in the Post-Graduate Department of History there before moving to New Delhi in 1971 to enrol myself for the Ph.D. programme at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). My interest was in American affairs and so I joined the American Studies centre where I obtained my M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in 1972 and 1978, respectively, under the supervision of Prof. B.K. Shrivastava who besides being a fine scholar was a wonderful human being. My other teachers there were Prof. M.S. Venkataramani and Prof. R. Narayanan who both were kind and supportive of my academic pursuits. Later in my career I was chosen for the Humboldt Fellowship of Germany to work at the South Asia Institute of the Heidelberg University (1985-86) and as a Ford Visiting Scholar at the centre for Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security (ACDIS) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (1992-93). If I go beyond the confines of formal education, I would say, by drawing from what Mahatma Gandhi used to say, that my life has been my biggest education.


INTERESTS

Bollywood movies interest me a lot. Generally I love movies with subtle humour. What particularly attracts me to Bollywood movies is the element of music in them including the lyrics. I am a great fan of Kishore Kumar and I have no hesitation of telling to the world that he is an all time great even if that makes me enter into a debate with the fans of other singers. I boast of having a good collection of Kishore songs and would love to read and hear anything about this legendary singer. I look forward to watching the biopic that Anurag Basu is planning to make on this legendary singer-actor-director-producer to be enacted by Ranbir Kapoor.