By Natalia Asis, Staff Reporter
As the past winter break was coming to an end, Sudip Mazumder got on an airplane in New Delhi, India to travel to Maine, where he has chosen to be UMF’s Libra professor for this spring semester.
This program is an opportunity to bring accomplished scholars, artists, or writers to UMF. Mazumder is an international journalist based in New Delhi, who mainly reports on issues from South and Central Asia. Some of his most remarkable work has been for Newsweek.
Mazumder, as any Libra Professor, is expected to teach, give lectures, workshops, or presentations and work with the faculty. This semester he is teaching “Can India democracy survive?” where he and his students examine if the democratic system in India is working well or not.
“If democracy in India survives and it functions properly, there will be many lessons for other democracies,” said Mazumder, “because India is a large country with a lot of diversity, different religions, different casts, different areas, different languages.” He is also a guest lecturer in other departments.
Mazumder’s biggest goal for his time at UMF is to broaden his students’ minds and to generate some interest about India and the world. “There is a world outside UMF, outside of Farmington, outside of Maine,” said Mazumder , “If something happens somewhere, it affects us. Today, if you really want to progress in life, you must get to know other people.”
It could be hard to believe that Mazumder grew up in a slum in India and managed to get out of it. His native language is Bengali and “I taught English to myself;” said Mazumder, “I didn’t even learn it in school.” Education was his key out of the slums.
“I realize when I look back into my life what saved me and what allowed me to get out of the slum life is education;” said Mazumder, “education not meaning [going to]college but learning and having curiosity.” He does point out that others aren’t as lucky as he was. “Some people may spend their whole lives there and not many get out of it,” said Mazumder.
“I have been here [U.S.] once before many years ago in a fellowship for nine months in which I traveled around the country,” said Mazumder. However, this is his first time in Maine. “Maine is beautiful”, Mazumder said, “but it is too cold. We don’t have this kind of cold in India. What’s very important is that the people are very warm here.”
Mazumder has been a journalist for over 27 years and has written many stories that have been read by the masses. Before being a journalist for Newsweek, he reported on many critical Indian current news. For example, after he wrote an article on Indian prisons, there were some solid changes for children that were formerly put in prison with adult criminals.
“One petty crime and they were arrested and taken to the jail,” Mazumder said. “They should [have] been sent to the corrections school but they were sent to these jails where they were harmed by criminals.” After the publication of that article, there was a designated area for children separated from the adults.
Another story he reported on made him reflect on the amount of danger journalists are exposed to. “There was a war between India and Pakistan up in the mountains in 1999 and I managed to go up there,” said Mazumder, “It was a very adventurous story because you had to save yourself.” This story reminded him how technology has evolved over the years and facilitated journalists’ jobs. “I had to write and submit the stories [from an isolated area] and this was before this modern digital technology,” said Mazumder.
On Feb. 13th, 2013 at 11:45pm, Mazumder will give a presentation called “Life as a Foreign Correspondent” as Part of the Faculty Forum Series. This will take place in North Dining Hall A, and it is open to the public.