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Future Hope in Kolkata

Last night, before going to sleep, I switched on the radio commentary for the India England cricket match now in progress in Kolkata, so that, in the event that I did the opposite of dozing off (dozing on?) I would keep up with England’s currrently very satisfactory progress in that game. With luck, tonight and tomorrow night, England will bowl out India cheaply in their second innings and England will go 2-1 up in the four game series. Find out if that happens by looking, e.g., here.

So far so sporty. But this morning, waking up at tea time, so to speak, I found myself listening, not to England’s batsmen batting and India’s bowlers bowling, but to this broadcast (that link switches it on straight away which you might not like – maybe going here would be more convenient – details down a bit on the left) done by the BBC’s long-time cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew. This broadcast was about a charitable enterprise in Kolkata which rescues street children, gives them somewhere unscary and unprecarious and unchanging to live, and which then educates them.

This broadcast lasts a mere fifteen minutes, otherwise it would have gone on longer than the tea interval. The enterprise it reports on is called Future Hope.

Learning about Future Hope is the sort of process that causes people with opinions about how the world should be organised to say: “and this just goes to show how right I have always been about …”. To me, what comes through is how morally uncorrupted these children were when first rescued, it having been precisely their moral excellence that got the attention of the man, a chap called Tim Grandage, who started Future Hope, in order to rescue some of these children from their terrible physical deprivations and torments. The children who have grown up in the care of Future Hope sound, in this broadcast anyway, like the very definition of the “deserving poor”.

This being a Test Match Special broadcast, you would expect cricket to figure in the story, and it does, although for a long time rugger seems to have been a bigger deal than cricket for Future Hope. Is Grandage a rugger enthusiast, I wonder? Indeed he is. Ever since it started, Future Hope has used sport to physically improve, to socialise and to excite its charges, and generally to give them positive and amusing things to think, and thereby helping to take their minds off past miseries. But India being India, Future Hope also wants to develop its cricket. The England Cricket Team have got involved, and they recently spent a day at Future Hope, as the broadcast describes. England’s formidable new captain, Alastair Cook, opened their new cricket coaching operation for them. Good for him.

This is the first time I have ever heard about Future Hope, and I have no idea if it really is as good a thing as Jonathan Agnew and the Future Hope people he talked to made it sound. These days, you can’t help but be slightly concerned about such a phenomenon. But it did sound like a very good thing indeed. And I want to believe that if there were any doubts about its excellence, the England cricket team would not have gone anywhere near it.

28 comments to Future Hope in Kolkata

  • Paul Marks

    Good fortune to them.

  • jmc

    So where is this “Kolkata” of which you speak?

    I know Indians form Calcutta but I’ve yet to meet any who told me they were from “Kolkata”

    “Kolkata” is basically a made up name invented a Hindu nationalist / chauvinist party (the BJP). Think of it as a more benign version of Kanpuchea. But the principal is the same.

    So how about using Calcutta, Bombay and Delhi in future. Their real names. After all you talk about Dublin, not Baile Atha Cliath. Another made up basically made up place name as it turns out.

  • So how about using Calcutta, Bombay and Delhi in future. Their real names.

    I have a better idea: the author can use whatever damn names he wants. That works for me.

  • Laird

    While I agree with Perry, I also see jmc’s point. Why is the “acceptable” spelling of anglicized (and transliterated) foreign names changed willy-nilly? When did Peking become Beijing? Why is Bombay now Mumbai? And (while I’m on it) what is the fascination with using the letter “q” without the conjoined “u” when transliterating foreign words into English (i.e., Qatar or Iraq or Qadaffi)? They aren’t spelled that way in the original language (which doesn’t even use the Roman alphabet). If you’re going to transliterate you should at least use the spelling conventions of the “new” language. Using a naked “q” seems to be nothing more than a snooty affectation.

    Sorry to hijack the thread (and not meaning to do anything to denigrate Future Hope, which seems to be a very worthy organization), but this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. (And, apparently, jmc’s as well.)

  • Alisa

    Laird, the reason for the use of Q instead of a K in Arabic names is that in Arabic the actual sound is much more similar to Q than it is to K – it is a more glottal sound. It has nothing to do with original spelling (as you point out yourself, it’s a different alphabet), but rather it is a phonetic representation, which is the only way to spell foreign names that don’t use the Latin alphabet.

  • jmc


    Because Kolkata is the BBC/Guardian/BJP name for Calcutta. It is not the historical / geographical name for the city, it is the name given to the city by one particular political party for purely political reasons. And the BBC/Guardian types just love kowtowing to those “post-colonial” ultra national parties like the BJP.

    This is a very different case from Peking/Beijing where it was a case of a modification in spelling due to changes in the system when romanising Mandarin Chinese.

    I know its just a posting on cricket but that is precisely the point. By using the term Kolkata one is accepting, it seems unconsciously, the political manipulations of language by a very unpleasant political class.

    So now back to our regular programming…

  • jmc

    You know perfectly well what this Kolkata is, as you subsequently demonstrate. So, what is the problem?

    I call Kolkata Kolkata because Indians now do, and they speak English, so it becomes silly not to.

    I follow Indian cricket. They have a team called the Kolkata Knight Riders. On Cricinfo, they identify the place where the current test match is happening as Kolkata, like all the British sports media. It is crazy not to follow the same usage.

    If the Irish stop talking, in English, about Dublin, and start saying the other name you mention, I will do the same.

    A Frenchman telling me to say Paree (or for that matter Londres) or a German telling me to say Munchen is telling me how to talk my own language and can be ignored. Ditto a Cambodian telling me how to say Cambodia in English, when they talk some other language. Indians do speak my language, and what they call their places is what I will call them.

    All names are made-up names. How do you think they start?

  • Laird

    Sorry, Alisa, I don’t buy that. Q doesn’t have a sound in English; when paired with a “u” it’s a “kw” sound but by itself if it had any sound at all it would be “k”. If you want something more glottal use a “g”.

  • Shlomo

    “Kolkata” is basically a made up name invented a Hindu nationalist / chauvinist party (the BJP). Think of it as a more benign version of Kanpuchea. But the principal is the same.

    Agreed. It drives me barmy. And, although I agree with Perry that Brian can spell it any way he pleases, I feel that by using these made up arbitrary transliterated ‘nativisms’, by using them, one gives succour to the inconsistent wankers (Wiki, BBC etc.) who have tried to expunge the other, perfectly good place names, remorselessly.

    They aren’t spelled that way in the original language (which doesn’t even use the Roman alphabet).

    Well, these Arabic words are not followed by the Arabic equivalent of a ‘w’ sound or the equivalent of the letter ‘u’ either. I think the ‘u’ is omitted in these cases because in most common forms of Arabic transliteration, the aim is to reproduce the Arabic letters letter-for-letter in English.

    If you’re going to transliterate you should at least use the spelling conventions of the “new” language. Using a naked “q” seems to be nothing more than a snooty affectation.

    Yes, it’s odd that the English ‘q’ has come to be used to transliterate the Arabic letter ‘qaf’. ‘Q’ (cf. the change from ‘Koran’ to the modern spelling ‘Qur’an’) from ‘k’ to represent ‘qaf’ is a fairly new phenomenon. If you consult the first and (I believe) second editions of Brill’s Encyclopaedia of Islam, you’ll notice that terms beginning with ‘qaf’ are transliterated using a ‘k’ with a dot below.

  • Shlomo

    I call Kolkata Kolkata because Indians now do, and they speak English, so it becomes silly not to.

    Well, I’m willing to wager you don’t call Cairo, Masr or al-Qahira, even though those are the words Egyptians would use…and many Egyptians speak English too.

  • Alisa

    Well Laird, English pronunciation is not something I’m competent to argue about, as you well know:-)

  • I think Brian should continue to use Kolkata just because it pisses the right people off. 🙂

  • Laird

    Interesting that you’ve touched an unexpected nerve here, Brian. Not where you thought this thread would go, I’d wager!

  • Regional

    Boganstan got whopped by Seth Efrika in Perth

  • Isn’t Perth’s cricket ground called the Whacker? 😉

  • veryretired


    Here’s an example of a good works program run by a group of (apparently) good hearted people which seems to work very well indeed, and which, furthermore, gives the lie very strongly to all the collectivist crap about how only government programs can help the poor—and all you bunch can talk about is how to spell the city’s name?

    Jesus f’ing christ.

  • Rather tentatively, I have something I want to say about another part the original post.

    These days, you can’t help but be slightly concerned about such a phenomenon.

    The link within those words took one to a post from Guido about the arrest of Max Clifford as part of the Savile enquiry.

    One of the most depressing things about all these revelations about alleged child abuse, not just the recent batch, is how a miasma of distrust starts to affect all sorts of worthwhile endeavour. For instance the number of male primary school teachers has plummeted because a significant minority of people think and hint that any male who wants to work with young children is likely to be a perv. As a result young boys, many of whom are already without a father in their lives due to (simplifying madly) welfare, often go through primary school without ever seeing a male role model.

    Yet it has also become clearer in recent years that some teachers of young children, and some charity workers working with young children, are indeed paedophiles who have sought out that type of work for the opportunity to abuse. I want them caught and I want precautions in place against them.

    All this is excessively obvious, I suppose. The point I am working towards is that there is something going very wrong with our society’s methods of protecting children against sexual abuse, AND with our methods of protecting innocent people against false accusation.

    Restricting the involvement of the state would probably help. I say this because there is scarcely any situation where that doesn’t help, and because the state tends naturally towards one-size-fits-all solutions and these are particularly unjust in this situation. I must admit that my imagination fails me when it comes to offering better alternatives, however.

  • Smited – and it wasn’t even about pronunciation of foreign place names!

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Very glad to think that such youngsters are being given such an opportunity. And as role sports role models go, Cook is up there with Roger Federer.

    Maybe in a few years time some if these youngsters will be striding out in their whites to take strike at Lords.

  • Alisa

    Guilty as charged, VR.

  • Laird

    Don’t care, VR. We discuss what interests us, or arouses our passions. What more is there to say about a charity in India other than “well done”? But we can argue about spelling and grammar until the cows come home.

  • veryretired

    Fine laird, and when your hamsters in trouble, and you have to call the fire brigade to save it, be sure to tell them your shoe size.

    Have to keep your priorities in order…

  • Julie near Chicago

    I wish to add my protesting yelp to Laird’s. :>)

    First, his entire initial comment.

    But second, yes, properly speaking “q” has no sound of its own in English, and when we say “kew” we are pronouncing the name of the soundless, not the soundless itself.

    Effectively, “qu” is a single letter, and no “transliteration” to the formally-single-letter “q” can be correct. It would be like “transliterating” Czech “c-with-the-ˇ-over-it” (I haven’t figured out how to produce it as a single symbol) as plain English “c.” In fact it’s close to our “ch” as in “Pachauri.” (Writing the upside-down caret after the c instead of over it to accommodate my inexpertise, the Czech represents the IPCC’s leader’s name as “Pacˇauri.”)

    Lord knows Alisa must be a better authority than I on the sound that speakers of Arabic languages actually make that gets “transliterated” as “q”; but it seems to me it’s very close to the “German gargle,” that is, the way Germans pronounce “ch.” Which is not all that dissimilar to the French pronunciation of “r”–which really threw me for many years! …Which is why renderings such as Akhmed and Khan and, yes, Khadaffi make perfect sense to me…the “h” serving as a sort of modifier to the normal hard-k sound, really giving us a new sound altogether, for which we neither have nor need a single symbol.

    Of course, as a linguist, I’m not, so I really don’t see why the linguistic PTB came up with this craziness. But that’s how I see it, sue me. :>)

  • Laird

    “Priorities” on a blog post? Ain’t no such thing. If you want to lecture me about going off-topic fine, have at it. But there’s not much less important than sitting before a blue screen on Sunday night typing opinions about ephemera. Can’t prioritize that; you just go as the spirit moves you. I am a leaf on the wind.

  • Alisa

    Julie: if anything, the H is not merely superfluous in ‘Khadaffi’, it is outright contrary to the actual pronunciation. While the difference between the K and the Q sounds may be debatable as per above comments, the overall tendency should be towards the “harder” sound – while the addition of H only makes it “softer”, and the K/Q/whatever sound in Arabic is anything but “soft”. There are two kinds of “soft C” (usually phonetically signified as KH/CH/X) in Arabic, but they are totally distinct from K/Q, and they are not to be found in Gaddafi’s name [I just thought I’d through the G version into the mix to add some fun].

    VR, if you do have any substantial input on the original topic of Brian’s post, I don’t see what has been stopping you from making it early on, or even later.

  • Alan Little

    I once saw a web page (in English) by a native speaker of Konkani – the language of much of India’s central west coast lowlands including Goa but also apparently as far up as “Mumbai” – protesting that the switch from “Bombay” to “Mumbai” was blatant marathi imperialism. Marathi being the language of the inland / upland regions of the current state of Maharashtra – the linguistic majority in the state, but apparently regarded by coastal Konkani speakers as some kind of uncouth hill tribe.


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