The man who uncovered the real truth behind the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings

For most of his working life, controversial Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett chose to report from the “other side”. His unorthodox views and activities caused him to be labelled a traitor by many.

Born in Melbourne in 1911 to George and Mary Burchett, William Burchett was forced to drop out of school at an early at because of poverty. However after working odd jobs as a salesman and an agricultural labourer, Burchett began his career in journalism in 1940 after moving to London

He worked as a freelance reporter and gained accreditation with the Daily Express newspaper. He covered many important events like the Vietnam War and Stalinist Russia during the course of his profession; however he is most remembered for his report on the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in 1945.

Wilfred-Burchett

Wilfred Burchett was the first Western journalist – and almost certainly the first Westerner other than prisoners of war – to reach Hiroshima after the bomb. Burchett entered Hiroshima alone in the early hours of 3 September 1945, less than a month after the first nuclear war began with the bombing of the city. After travelling for 30 hours, what Burchett saw at the hospitals in Hiroshima, left him deeply disturbed. The story which he typed out on his battered Baby Hermes typewriter, sitting among the ruins, remains one of the most important Western eyewitness accounts, and the first attempt to come to terms with the full human and moral consequences of the United States’ initiation of nuclear war. While 250 journalists were reporting on the Japanese surrender, Burchett alone realized the real story was in that doomed city, officially off limits to outsiders.

After much persuasion, his article appeared in the Daily Express newspaper in London on 5 September 1945, entitled “The Atomic Plague”. His report caused a furor in the US Government, which was trying to cover up the incident as a successful bomb test, without reporting the scale of human and environmental devastation, the bombs caused in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Thereafter, Burchett faced many other hostilities at the hand of US authority. His press accreditation was withdrawn by General MacArthur. While journeying to Tokyo, a request for a lift back by US Army plane was denied. A Request to deliver a copy of his report to newspaper colleagues at press headquarter in Tokyo was also not complied with. His undeveloped negative films containing the historic images of Hiroshima victims were mysteriously missing. Because of his visit to Hiroshima, he was unceremoniously deported from there

For Burchett, that experience was a turning point, ‘a watershed in my life, decisively influencing my whole professional career and world outlook’. In the years after the bombings, this experience influenced his ideology about the government and the angles he chose for his stories.

In his lifetime, Burchett had been often condemned as a communist and a traitor, especially in Australia. However he had an international reputation, launched by his courageous solo trip to Hiroshima, where reported the horrendous crimes that had occurred there. In this age of “embedded” journalists and dominance of the mass media by powerful corporations, reporting often seems to be mere channeling of government propaganda.  It is, therefore, inspiring to read the work of someone who dared to investigate for himself, often “from the other side” of conflicts, to see with his own eyes and judge accordingly.

It was his firm conviction that the West was wrong in Korea, and wrong later in Vietnam, and the stories he filed outraged the West.  He was denied a passport in Australia and lived in exile for 17 years, without citizenship in any country.

Wilfred Burchett died of cancer aged 72. The cancer, which was the result of the radioactive environment in Hiroshima, stayed with him for 40 years and he was one of the last victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

Blood

 Blood2

She looked at the thick red liquid that flowed freely from her wrist. She loved the feeling of blood flowing out of her body. To her, it was almost like her worries finding an outlet. But it never really worked, for too long. The worries came back again to haunt her. And then she would have to cut open herself to let them out again.

She had grown immune to the pain. Her body was covered in scars that she hid under her long sleeves. She did not mind them anymore. They were part of her existence.  At this moment several images flashed through her head. For some unexplainable reason she remembered his face, in the midst of her happy agony. Cheeks that resembled a chipmunk’s and greasy hair that reflected light. He was beautiful and charming in a roguish manner. She remembered his face through curls and wisps of the Wills Classic Mild Cigarette he would often smoke. “At least I’ll die slower than those who smoke a strong” he would joke whenever she questioned him about his smoking habit.

He was wrong.

She reflected upon her memories of him as she continued bleeding it out to lessen her pain.

5 common misconceptions about women’s colleges

women

Many women today, feel rather irked about the idea of attending a single-sex college. The reason for this may be the general assumption in the minds of most students that, college life is incomplete without exciting co-ed experiences like dating. Most women, who do choose a single-sex institution over a co-ed institution, do so either because of family tradition or out of lack of better options.

Unfortunately, women’s colleges are more thrilling and dramatic than most people credit them for. Students who have graduated from such institutions will vouch for this. In India, most of these colleges were built by Christian Missionaries or social workers, in order to promote women’s education. Many of these institutions, like Sophia College for Women or SNDT University are old and are architectural works of art. Besides that, these institutions are also reputed for being examples of academic excellence.

It is, therefore, frustrating to observe the ridiculous and ludicrous notions that most people have about women’s colleges. It is possible that these opinions may have been formed either out of total ignorance or complete stupidity.

Listed below are the top five reactions I receive, when I reveal to people, that I am a student of a women’s institution

It’s a lesbian college, right?

Wrong. It is not. But we do accept women of all sexual orientations to join us. Fun fact #1: Straight women also attend such institutions, simply because some of us are driven by ambition and not by estrogen.

Fun fact#2: Students are admitted to such institutions based on their academic merit and not on their sexual orientation.

Don’t you miss the guys?

Not really. It is possible to survive for six hours a day without being surrounded by men. To be really honest, it is a pleasant change. We would rather surround ourselves with smart, intellectual women and proffessors who keep reminding us about how awesome we are, rather than with ‘guys’ who make us conscious about what we wear and what our hair looks like. Besides an environment surrounded by productive feminine energy is way more relaxing than one surrounded by competitive masculine energy

Everyone who graduates from a women’s college is a bra-burning feminist.

Um… Feminism is just an ideology that acknowledges women as people. Nothing bad to that, is there? Feminists are not women who are extreme misandrists, who use violence to prove feminine superiority. That is a stereotype. Men can be feminists too.

feminist

Women’s colleges are irrelevant today.

Most people today often dismiss the notion of special attention to women’s education as trivial, because they believe that, discrimination against women hardly exists in modern times. However, women’s colleges are necessary, especially in a country like India, which is still very conservative, as far as its women are concerned.  Many of the students in these institutions belong to families that still have qualms about letting their girl children attend co-ed college, in order to protect them from the ‘corrupting influences of the world run by men’.

Special colleges for women? Isn’t that discrimination against men?

Oh Brother! This question, I never bother to answer.

In a nutshell, there is a lot that women’s colleges offer to their students. Most of all, many students find it refreshing to be in an environment where the faculty seems to genuinely care about your intellectual development. Some people would argue that, women’s colleges ‘shield women from public spaces’ therefore, making them incompetent in the real world. However, the lack of men in such institutions rather than shielding women, exposes them. Roles and opportunities that are traditionally assigned to men are usually executed by women. A woman is made to realize that she is no less than any man and that your genitals do not define your potential. And that, my friends, is why women’s colleges are awesome.

On that note, here’s a fun graphic:

education

The Silent Scream

She did not blame him, though she wished he would understand. She wasn’t even surprised he didn’t. She knew she was too complex and too confused about herself. He asked her in a steely voice, “Do you want to continue with this relationship? I cannot be a saint and pretend you love me when you clearly don’t”

‘Why does he have to get so cheesy all the time?’, she thought to herself. She usually refrained from using the word ‘love’;  she had always maintained that there was no such thing and it was merely biochemistry at play. Yet here she was, in a sticky situation, falling short of words, unable to think of what she must say to him.

“You’re still in love with him. I know it.” He said quietly.

“I am not” She retorted and she knew she was not. She was over her ex, or at least almost there. It’s never really ever over with your ex. Though she still kept in touch with him, she was sure they could never spend an entirety together. They would never be able to make time for each other and soon enouugh, 3 years later, the magic had vanished. Even her ex had never fully decoded her, he never understood her pessimism  the freedom she gave him, which was almost always coated with insecurity and or her cynical and logical views about the world. He cared, but that wasn’t enough for her.

It was then, that he entered her life. ‘This time its going to be different’, she had promised herself. Even though, they were as different as chalk  and cheese, she was determined to make it work.

They had started their relationship on the a wrong note. He manipulated her to be with him, and she shamelessly knew she was being manipulated. She never admitted it to him, but she played deceptive with him too.

He was insecure about her, which  funnily enough  was a quality about him, which she both loved and hated. He was scared of losing her. She who was even more insignificant than bacteria. She smiled remembering the way he would shield her whenever the train was crowded, or constantly keep calling her whenever she did not pick up his call. She remembered the erotic charges that would pass through her body whenever he would come close. The faint smell of cigarettes, sometimes whisky, on his breath. She loved that smell, just like the growth over his eye or the pigmentation on his neck.

“Do you want to continue? Are you serious about us?” He repeated.

She reflected upon their future. She would never admit to him,but she had often thought about how her life would be if she married him. She imagined happy things; him cooking for her, her doing the dishes, the grocery shopping and the bathing together.

She, of course, never thought about the process of getting there considering the perils that come with dating your co-worker. Everything happened in secret.   

She knew, he put in more effort into the relationship than she did. He tolerated her, but she had stretched it too far. That day she was angry, because he did not meet her, so she lied to him and told him she had gone to meet her ex. She wanted him to feel insecure, she wanted to make him want her.

But he didn’t.  He instead recoiled into a cocoon, avoiding contact with her, and when he came out, he wanted to know whether she would be with him forever.

Forever, she thought, was too long a time. and love was over rated. Love was too trivial over duty or tolerance. It was hollow. She had only known him a year, she needed time, but he needed an answer.

She did not want to waste his time. She didn’t respond.She suddenly realized, in that moment, that it would never work out with him. She was attached and she had to let him go. He was right. She was pretending that she loved him.

“So I get it” he said bravely. She could hear him sniff. “This is the last time I am talking to you” he finished

“Don’t do that. Can’t we at least be friends?” She added immediately. She did not want to lose him.

“Please don’t make this hard on me” He said. There was a depressing quality about his voice that made her upset/

“Meet me for the last time, at least”

“I will. But I will decide the time and place” he added with finality.

“You sure, you don’t want to keep in touch” she added.

“I’m sure. Please don’t contact me” he said.

“Cool” she acknowledged in an offhand manner. “Do tell me when you find Miss perfect, though” she said and then winced as she visualized him with another woman.

“I don’t want another woman” he said. His voice sounded like it was about to crack.

“Bye then” she said casually

“Bye”. He paused reluctantly.

“I love you” she added and she felt it in that moment, but the moment passed too quickly

“I love you too. Take care of yourself” he said curtly. The sniffing on the other line was getting more frequent.

He cut the call. She walked along silently, a shadow among the crowd heading home after work, as her soul screamed silently, wishing he knew what went through her.

It’s a fish-eat-fish world after all!

An ecosystem may be defined as a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. These interactions, in turn are instrumental in sustaining the equilibrium present in nature.  To put it simply, ecosystems are fundamental units that help primarily maintain balance in nature. Forest, mangroves and coral reefs are examples of thriving ecosystems prevalent in nature. Some scientists even believe that the whole world is an ecosystem

All ecosystems have certain characteristics.  The most basic characteristic of any ecosystem is a food chain. The food chain is mainly referred to the predator-prey relationship which exists in an ecosystem. The predator feeds off the prey thus serving a dual purpose. While, the ‘predator’ receives the most basic need of any living organism; food, the species of the ‘prey’ is regulated and thus, biodiversity is maintained. While this may seem, like a pretty cruel and harsh way to maintain control over a species, the food chains in our world are a reminder to us by nature that we are all interdependent on one another for our survival.

If one were to observe human relationships and compare it to ecosystems, the similarities would be startling.  Similar to the predator and prey theory, studies done over human psychology have brought to light the theory of the “the dominant and the submissive” in human relationships (which extends beyond sexual relationships). In the 1990’s, a gentleman named James F. Moore proposed the theory of a business ecosystem.  He believed that in an office environment too, one cannot survive without feeding off the other.

The man was a genius.  Even though his McKinsey Award-winning article was pertaining to creating a market for one’s business, his observation about predator and prey in a human environment hit bull’s eye. A few days in my office as an intern have helped me notice the ecosystem that exists within a media company.  Like every ecosystem, this ecosystem, too, has a food chain.  One must not mistake this food chain as being cannibalistic in nature; this food chain refers to feeding off another’s intellect and energy. To further explain my point, I would like to draw similarities to the food chain prevalent in a company to that of marine ecosystem.

marine-food-chain-from-encyclopedia-britannica

  We shall begin in with observing the consumers in the food chain in descending order. The CEO or the President is the apex predator in a food chain. One may compare them to sharks or orcas in an office environment. Just like their sea counterparts, they mostly roam on their own and are feared by other smaller predators. Their feats are glorified and they become ‘legends’ within the company. They become a symbol of power, strength and wisdom to those outside the food chain as well as the recipients of pure hatred and malice to those within the food chain.

The second in the hierarchy, namely the secondary consumers in a food chain consist of Executives and Managers. The consumers at this level are preyed upon by the apex predator. They exist in groups and mingle around with their own types; their likes may be compared to that of the larger fishes, eels, carps, and so on.  They also roam around fearlessly among the lesser fishes and claim huge expanses of the geography as their territory, namely their cabins.  Just like their sea counterparts they stick around with their kind, rarely mixing with the other species unless they are required to interact /bully them in order to ensure, the smooth functioning of the workings of the company(maintaining the biodiversity).

The third in hierarchy in consists of employees. They are the primary consumers in a food chain that are often preyed upon by the secondary consumers and (if they happen to be in big trouble) then the apex predators. An office ecosystem is generally abundant with primary consumers.  It is mainly because of the members of this level that an office ecosystem functions.  Just like their sea counterparts the small fishes and krill, they are considered common and are dismissed by the members belonging to the upper rung of the heirarchy.  Even within the members of this level, there exists a food chain, the senior employees boss it over the junior employees and tend to disregard them for their lack of experience.  One may refer to this process as intellectual cannibalism, since seniority is, in actuality, just another tag created in order to flatter egos.

At the bottom of the hierarchy are the primary producers a.k.a the most unthanked members in a food chain. While in a marine ecosystem, plankton is considered as a primary producer, in a business ecosystem, interns may be considered as their counterparts. Interns are the plankton of a corporate ecosystem. They are hardly ever given credit, (in cash or in kind). They are present all over the place and though their function is to feed the ravenous predators in the ecosystem, they are often dismissed as having lesser purpose than the bacteria floating in the environment.

Whoever said, it’s a fish eat fish world, knew what she/he was talking about.  She/he was probably an intern at a media corporate too. So to wrap up, my theory, I will leave you with a thought represented through the following graphic:

image001-764967

When the guys on the top look down all they see is shit, and when the guys below look up, all they see are ass holes.

P.S: The opinions expressed in the article belong to the author alone and are entirely subjective

‘The Lie’ by Maya Angelou

The Lie’ is one of my favourite poems written by Maya Angelou. I read it for the first time in my literature class, thanks to Mrs Stevens, my amazing literature teacher in college. The poem captures a young woman’s emotions after a break-up and also the way she chooses to defend her ego and walk away rather than try to win back her lover/boyfriend and appear weak. I’m not too fond of poetry, however, reading this poem always makes me smile. 
                                                 
                                                              The Lie
Today, you threaten to leave me.

I hold curses, in my mouth,

which could flood your path, sear

bottomless chasms in your road.

I keep, behind my lips,

invectives capable of tearing

the septum from your

nostrils and the skin from your back.

Tears, copious as a spring rain,

are checked in ducts

and screams are crowded in a corner

of my throat.

You are leaving?

 

Aloud, I say:

I’ll help you pack, but it’s getting late,

I have to hurry or miss my date.

When I return, I know you’ll be gone.

Do drop a line or telephone.

 

Maya Angelou

 

The bike that lies forgotten

Even today, I can recall the day my parents first bought me my bicycle, seven years ago.  It was a lazy October afternoon and I was busy reading ‘The Adventures of the Wishing chair‘ . My usually frowning faced father entered through the door grinning widely, telling me to go to the window urgently.

I did as told and saw nothing out-of-place. The compound was full of the usual cars parked in front of my gate, the watchman fast asleep with his mouth wide open and the road filled with nonchalant pedestrians. However right in front of the window stood a brand new cycle, still covered in bubble wrap.

‘Whose new bicycle is that?’ I asked curiously, wondering who would be the new show off on the playground today.

“Its your’s” he replied.

I turned around to see if he was joking, but he was smiling widely, holding out the keys to the new bicycle in his hand. I snatched the keys from my father’s palm and rushed outside. This time, I observed the bike more closely. It was a handsome new Hercules Turbo drive, red and black in colour. ‘This is awesome’ I screamed ringing the cycle bell in wild ecstasy,so that everybody could hear.

This bicycle wasn’t my first. I did own another bike before this one, but I had grown out of it. However, this bike was my first bicycle without side wheels’

From the day of its arrival, I would never let go off the bicycle.  I would even ride to places that were within walking distance. It wasn’t long after that I soon became popular around my neighbourhood as ‘that little girl on the red bike.’ I was hopelessly in love with my bicycle, so much so that I would even talk to it sometimes, often referring to it as  ‘Fiera’. I would spend hours neurotically cleaning the cycle and getting it serviced on time.  On school nights as well as on weekends, I would haunt the lane in front of my house, way past my curfew riding the bicycle with my short hair flying wildly in the wind.

I felt a high, whenever i rode the bicycle. I would pretend to be a badass biker hunk and pedal away in full speed. My fantasies ranged from being a cowgirl destined to save the universe with her faithful ‘horse’ Fiera, to being a clever genius scientist who had to combat aliens with a super, high-tech, advanced vehicle that was the earth’s only hope of survival. In my imagination, i would race against time, to save the world from extinction, to deserts, to tricky caves even to the victorian era . It was a wonder, however that I never had an accident.

3

Life was beautiful and thrilling but time passed. And as it did,  I traded my short crop for long tresses and my tomboyish attitude for a skirt.  Over time,  I stopped riding my bike altogether, as other activities occupied my time. the notion of taking a cycle everywhere, began to seem childish and ridiculous. However the bike stood in the shed corner gathering dirt and rust, lonely and unused. On weekends, I would clean it but it began seeming a lot like a chore.

One day, my father suggested that I sell the bicycle, but I refused to part with it. He complained to me saying I never used it, and selling it was a better option. However, I was adamant that the bike would stay. To prove my point, I took the bicycle for servicing and after cleaning it up and getting it back to working condition, I decided to take it for a round, one evening.  The idea was a major flop.  I, who was used to cycling 3 hours straight,  felt exhausted after 2 rounds. The traffic and the honking  intimidated me and I experienced hesitation something that 12-year-old Ramona, who would ride ‘rash’ on the main road during rush hour, never experienced.

I realised how much time had altered me as a person. From being the young, cheerful and brave girl, I was now a woman, unsure of my place and purpose in the world.  We similarly outgrow experiences, we want to hold on to. Priorities take over simple joys in life. In our minds, we still yearn to be, the happier people we once were, but we are far from being that person. In recesses of our hearts, though we still look upon those beautiful experiences we forget on the shores of our childhood, till reality urges us to come back to the present and continue with our chosen paths and our attempts to find excuses for true happiness.