Happy New Year Everyone from John and Ing in our Sculpture Garden

I went back to view my Blog and found our new year’s wish that I posted on January 1, 2016.  I like the poem I wrote, and our sculpture garden showing flowers blooming with bees and butterflies.  I decided to post the project again for our New Year’s wish to everyone around the world for Happiness and Peace for the year of 2020, and always.

Happy New Year Everyone from John and Ing in our Sculpture Garden

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Downtown Newark, New Jersey,

🙂 🙂 🙂 Happy New Year Everyone 🙂 🙂 🙂

I enjoyed cultivating our garden and John enjoyed producing his sculptures.  We produced our Sculpture Garden for ourselves and hope that the others will enjoy it also.

From spring to fall our garden was full of flower blossoms and buzzing with bees, Swallowtail, Monarchs and Red admiral butterflies.  They were drinking nectar from the flowers while John and I were busy with our garden. 

We hope that our first grandson Kai, who is 4 months old in January 2016 and now in 2020 he is 4 years old, will be able to see what his grandpa and grandma were doing when he is old enough to understand. 

We are quite satisfied and happy with the result of our Sculpture Garden last year, 2015.  We would like to share some of the scenery of our garden that John and I captured all year round.

May Peace and Happiness be with all of us for 2020 and always.

John lays cement blocks building patio for his sculptures in our backyard garden.

May 2015:  John is laying a brick floor in some area of the garden.

Lays the Basic Foundation to be Better and Firm

Brick by brick he lays

One’s foundation of love

Love to make a basic ground for better and firm

Love to use two hands and brain to create

From a lump of clay

Forming certain shapes

Love to put thought

And experience into creating

Sculpture to be born

Love to explore and share

What one does

The love of nature

And love of fellow mankind

Keeps us alive and well

Let love dominate the world

Let us be calm and peaceful

Let us lay a basic foundation

Brick by brick

To be better and firm

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts, Wednesday, January 06, 2016, 4:07 pm

My first poem for this year, 2016

John cut cement blocks building patio for his sculptures in our backyard garden.

John was cleaning the wall.

August 2015:  John assembling his new sculpture.

Top left:  Cutting an iron pole for the sculpture

Right:  Calculating the length of each section

Ing’s sculpture, Tower of Freedom

This is another one of my sculptures.  John insists on having my two sculptures in our garden.

I love taking photos in the garden and enjoy seeing my flower blooms.  I like to sneak taking pictures of John when he is working in the garden.  Once I caught myself taking photo with flowers in the reflection of the entrance door to the house.

October 2015:  John and I received very sad news from a friend, Arthur Rogoff, who told us that Steve Mace, one of John pottery students and a friend, passed away.  John and I went to a remembrance gathering at Steve’s family home.  His wife said that before Steve passed away, he said that he wanted to give John the above sculpture. 

John made the sculpture in 1980 and Steve exchanged an early version of a camcorder for this sculpture from John.  We are very appreciative for the gift of this sculpture from Steve.  Steve was a very kind and generous person.  Every time John had gathering for the pottery students each year, Steve would bring his home-made special bread filled with sausage, cheese, pepper, onion and other ingredients that tasted delicious.  He also brought other items for the occasions.  I wish to dedicate this project to Steve Mace who we all miss and we will always think of fondly for the rest of our lives.   

The top part of sculpture was broken in the process of transportation from Steve house to our backyard sculptures garden.  John had to repair it.

Earlier in 2015, John laid a cement block patio for his sculptures in our backyard garden.  By adding the gift from Steve this makes it more meaningful and sentimental.  We will always think of him every time we are present in our sculpture garden.

May Peace and Happiness be with all of us for 2020 and always.

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts and John Watts, Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Go to the top

Remembering Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon

Remembering Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon

Died on Monday, January 16, 2017

Eugene Cernan in Lunar Module

Apollo 17 mission commander Eugene Cernan inside the lunar module on the moon after his second moonwalk of the mission. His spacesuit is covered with lunar dust

“We leave as we came, and, God willing, we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.” — Cernan’s closing words on leaving the moon at the end of Apollo 17

Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, died Monday, Jan. 16, surrounded by his family.

Cernan, a Captain in the U.S. Navy, left his mark on the history of exploration by flying three times in space, twice to the moon. He also holds the distinction of being the second American to walk in space and the last human to leave his footprints on the lunar surface.

He was one of 14 astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963. He piloted the Gemini 9 mission with Commander Thomas P. Stafford on a three-day flight in June 1966. Cernan logged more than two hours outside the orbiting capsule.

In May 1969, he was the lunar module pilot of Apollo 10, the first comprehensive lunar-orbital qualification and verification test of the lunar lander. The mission confirmed the performance, stability, and reliability of the Apollo command, service and lunar modules. The mission included a descent to within eight nautical miles of the moon’s surface.

In a 2007 interview for NASA’s oral histories, Cernan said, “I keep telling Neil Armstrong that we painted that white line in the sky all the way to the Moon down to 47,000 feet so he wouldn’t get lost, and all he had to do was land. Made it sort of easy for him.”

 Apollo 17 Commander Eugene A. Cernan and the U.S. flag on the lunar surface.

Apollo 17 commander Eugene A. Cernan is holding the lower corner of the American flag during the mission’s first EVA, December 12, 1972. Photograph by Harrison J. “Jack” Schmitt.   Image Credit: NASA


Cernan and Evans in Apollo 17  Credits: NASA

Cernan concluded his historic space exploration career as commander of the last human mission to the moon in December 1972. En route to the moon, the crew captured an iconic photo of the home planet, with an entire hemisphere fully illumnitated — a “whole Earth” view showing Africa, the Arabian peninsula and the south polar ice cap. The hugely popular photo was referred to by some as the “Blue Marble,” a title in use for an ongoing series of NASA Earth imagery.

Apollo 17 established several new records for human space flight, including the longest lunar landing flight (301 hours, 51 minutes); longest lunar surface extravehicular activities (22 hours, 6 minutes); largest lunar sample return (nearly 249 pounds); and longest time in lunar orbit (147 hours, 48 minutes).

Cernan and crewmate Harrison H. (Jack) Schmitt completed three highly successful excursions to the nearby craters and the Taurus-Littrow mountains, making the moon their home for more than three days. As he left the lunar surface, Cernan said, “America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. As we leave the moon and Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came, and, God willing, we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.”


 Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt sing while walking on the moon during the last Apollo lunar landing mission.  NASA.gov Video “I Was Strolling on the Moon One Day” the link on YouTube is as the following: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl_VdN6rfrQ

“Apollo 17 built upon all of the other missions scientifically,” said Cernan in 2008, recalling the mission as the agency celebrated its 50th Anniversary. “We had a lunar rover, we were able to cover more ground than most of the other missions. We stayed there a little bit longer. We went to a more challenging unique area in the mountains, to learn something about the history and the origin of the moon itself.”

On their way to the moon, the Apollo 17 crew took one of the most iconic photographs in space-program history, the full view of the Earth dubbed “The Blue Marble.” Despite it’s fame, the photograph hasn’t really been appreciated, Cernan said in 2007.

This classic photograph of the Earth was taken on December 7, 1972.

Credits: NASA

“What is the real meaning of seeing this picture? I’ve always said, I’ve said for a long time, I still believe it, it’s going to be — well it’s almost fifty now, but fifty or a hundred years in the history of mankind before we look back and really understand the meaning of Apollo. Really understand what humankind had done when we left, when we truly left this planet, we’re able to call another body in this universe our home. We did it way too early considering what we’re doing now in space. It’s almost as if JFK reached out into the twenty-first century where we are today, grabbed hold of a decade of time, slipped it neatly into the (nineteen) sixties and seventies (and) called it Apollo.”

On July 1, 1976, Cernan retired from the Navy after 20 years and ended his NASA career. He went into private business and served as television commentator for early fights of the space shuttle.

Last Updated: Jan. 16, 2017

Editor: Brian Dunbar

Tags:  NASA History

 Jan. 16, 2017

RELEASE 17-007

NASA Administrator Reflects on Legacy of Last Man to Walk on Moon

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the passing of Gemini and Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan:

“Gene Cernan, Apollo astronaut and the last man to walk on the moon, has passed from our sphere, and we mourn his loss. Leaving the moon in 1972, Cernan said, ‘As I take these last steps from the surface for some time into the future to come, I’d just like to record that America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow.’ Truly, America has lost a patriot and pioneer who helped shape our country’s bold ambitions to do things that humankind had never before achieved.

“Gene first served his country as a Naval Aviator before taking the pilot’s seat on the Gemini 9 mission, where he became the second American to walk in space and helped demonstrate rendezvous techniques that would be important later. As a crew member of both the Apollo 10 and 17 missions, he was one of three men to have flown twice to the moon. He commanded Apollo 17 and set records that still stand for longest manned lunar landing flight, longest lunar surface extravehicular activities, largest lunar sample return, and longest time in lunar orbit.

“Gene’s footprints remain on the moon, and his achievements are imprinted in our hearts and memories. His drive to explore and do great things for his country is summed up in his own words:

We truly are in an age of challenge. With that challenge comes opportunity. The sky is no longer the limit. The word impossible no longer belongs in our vocabulary. We have proved that we can do whatever we have the resolve to do. The limit to our reach is our own complacency.’

“In my last conversation with him, he spoke of his lingering desire to inspire the youth of our nation to undertake the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies, and to dare to dream and explore. He was one of a kind and all of us in the NASA Family will miss him greatly.”

For more information about Cernan’s NASA career, visit:



Bob Jacobs
Headquarters, Washington

Last Updated: Jan. 16, 2017

Editor: Allard Beutel

Tags:  NASA History

Read Full Article

Gemini IXA Splashes Down

The Gemini IXA spacecraft, with command pilot Tom Stafford and pilot Eugene Cernan aboard, splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean on June 6, 1966, less than one mile from the prime recovery ship, the aircraft carrier USS Wasp. It was the first time a spacecraft descending on its parachute was shown on live television

 Looking Back at the Gemini IX Spacecraft                         “What a beautiful spacecraft,” said Gemini IX pilot Eugene Cernan during his two hour, eight minute spacewalk on June 5, 1966. He took this wide-angle photograph looking back at the window where command pilot Tom Stafford was watching.


 Gemini IXA Pilot Eugene Cernan Spacewalk

During his two hour, eight minute spacewalk on June 5, 1966, Gemini IXA pilot Eugene Cernan is seen outside the spacecraft. His experience during that time showed there was still much to be learned about working in microgravity.


 Gemini IXA Astronauts at Launch Pad 19                                                                               

After two postponements, Gemini IXA astronauts Eugene Cernan, left, and Tom Stafford, center, arrive in the white room atop Launch Pad 19 at Cape Kennedy Air Force Station on June 3, 1966. Stafford is presenting a large match to McDonnell Aircraft Corporation’s pad leader Gunter Wendt, far right.


 Apollo 10 Launch                                                                                                                         The Apollo 10 (Spacecraft 106/Lunar Module 4/Saturn 505) space vehicle with crew members Eugene Cernan, John Young and Thomas Stafford on board is launched from Pad B, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center at 12:49 p.m., May 18, 1969.


Apollo 10 Rollout                                                                                                                     Apollo 10 rollout from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to Launch Complex 39B. This mission launched on May 18, 1969. The crew of Tom Stafford, Gene Cernan and John Young  

flew the “dress rehearsal” for the first human landing on the moon.


 Apollo 10 Lunar Module Ascends                                                                                                     After dropping down to 47,400 feet above the moon’s surface, Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan aboard the ascent stage of Apollo 10 lunar module, return to John Young in the command module on May 22, 1969.


Apollo 10 Crew

The crew of Apollo 10, from the left, Eugene Cernan, John Young and Thomas Stafford are photographed while at the Kennedy Space Center. In the background is the Apollo 10 space vehicle on Launch Pad 39 B, The three crewmen had just completed a Countdown Demonstration Test exercise on May 13, 1969.

41 Years Ago this Week – Apollo 17

During the second spacewalk on December 12, 1972, Apollo 17 Mission Commander Eugene A. Cernan is standing near the lunar rover designed by Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Apollo 17 Launch

The huge, 363-feet tall Apollo 17 (Spacecraft 114/Lunar Module 12/Saturn 512) space vehicle is launched from Pad A., Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida, at 12:33 a.m. (EST), Dec. 7, 1972.

Apollo 17, the final lunar landing mission in NASA’s Apollo program, was the first nighttime liftoff of the Saturn V launch vehicle.


 Apollo 17 Mission Commander Eugene Cernan Drives Lunar Roving Vehicle                     

Apollo 17 mission commander Eugene Cernan drives the lunar roving vehicle during the early part of the first moonwalk at the Taurus-Littrow landing site. The Lunar Module is in the background.


  Gene Cernan at Armstrong Memorial  

 Apollo 17 mission commander Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, looks skyward during a memorial service celebrating the life of Neil Armstrong at the Washington National Cathedral, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, died Saturday, Aug. 25. He was 82.


 Gene Cernan Speaks at Armstrong Memorial Service                                                                                                    Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, speaks during a memorial service celebrating the life of Neil Armstrong at the Washington National Cathedral, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, died Saturday, Aug. 25. He was 82.


 Apollo 17 Splashdown                                                                                                                          The Apollo 17 spacecraft, containing astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans, and Harrison H. Schmitt, glided to a safe splashdown at 2:25 p.m. EST on Dec. 19, 1972, 648 kilometers (350 nautical miles) southeast of American Samoa.

House Hearing on NASA Human Spaceflight Plan

Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong, left, and retired Navy Captain and commander of Apollo 17 Eugene Cernan, confer prior to testifying at a hearing before the House Science and Technology Committee, Tuesday, May 26, 2010, at the Rayburn House office building on Capitol Hill in Washington. The hearing was to review proposed human spaceflight plans.

 Apollo 40th Anniversary Press Conference                           On July 20, 2009, Apollo astronauts from left, Walt Cunningham (Apollo 7), James Lovell (Apollo 8 Apollo 13), David Scott (Apollo 9 Apollo 15), Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11), Charles Duke (Apollo 16), Thomas Stafford (Apollo 10) and Eugene Cernan (Apollo 17) are seen during the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission press conference.


Apollo 10 40th Anniversary Program                                   NASA Apollo 10 Astronaut Gene Cernan, right, answers questions from the Newseum’s distinguished journalist-in-residence, Nick Clooney during a Newseum TV program celebrating the 40th anniversary of Apollo 10, Monday, May 18, 2009, in Washington.

Suited Up for Apollo 10 Mission – May 1969                            Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, Apollo 10 lunar module pilot, is suited up at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a Countdown Demonstration Test during preparations for his scheduled lunar orbit mission. The other two crew members are astronauts Thomas P. Stafford, commander, and John W. Young, command module pilot.

Apollo 17 Launch                                                                                                                     A Saturn V rocket streaks toward space on the night of December 17, 1972, carrying the Apollo 17 crew, the last astronauts to explore the moon. Leaving the lunar surface, Commander Gene Cernan said “we leave as we came, and, God willing, we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.”              

Apollo 17 Launch                                                                                                    The huge, 363-feet tall Apollo 17 (Spacecraft 114/Lunar Module 12/Saturn 512) space vehicle is launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida, at 12:33 a.m. (EST), Dec. 7, 1972. Apollo 17, the final lunar landing mission in NASA’s Apollo program, was the first nighttime liftoff of the Saturn V.

Apollo 17’s Moonship                                                                                    Awkward and angular looking, Apollo 17’s lunar module Challenger was designed for flight in the vacuum of space. This picture, taken from the command module America, shows Challenger’s ascent stage in lunar orbit. Small reaction control thrusters are at the sides of the moonship with the bell of the ascent rocket engine itself underneath.

Apollo 17 Crew                                                                                                                          On Dec. 19, 1972, the Apollo 17 crew returned to Earth. Apollo 17 was the sixth and last Apollo mission in which humans walked on the lunar surface. On Dec. 11, Lunar Module Pilot Harrison H. Schmitt and Commander Eugene A. Cernan, landed on the moon’s Taurus-Littrow region in the Lunar Module. 

 Driving on the Moon                                                                                                          Apollo 17 mission commander Eugene A. Cernan makes a short checkout of the Lunar Roving Vehicle during the early part of the first Apollo 17 extravehicular activity at the Taurus-Littrow landing site. This view of the lunar rover prior to loadup was taken by Harrison H. Schmitt, Lunar Module pilot.

Apollo 17 – The Last Moon Shot

In 1865, Jules Verne wrote a science fiction story entitled, “From the Earth to the Moon.” The story outlined the author’s vision of a cannon in Florida so powerful that it could shoot a “Projectile-Vehicle” carrying three adventurers to the moon. More than 100 years later NASA produced the Saturn V rocket and from a spaceport in Florida.

Reflections of the Moon                                                                                                             The surface of the moon is reflected in the command and service module as it prepares to rendezvous with the lunar module in this December 1972 image from the Apollo 17 mission.

  Training for the Apollo 17 Mission                                       Two members of the prime crew of the Apollo 17 lunar landing mission participate in training at the Kennedy Space Center. Scientist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt (foreground), lunar module pilot, simulates scooping up lunar sample material. Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan (background), commander, holds a sample b

 Blue Marble – Image of the Earth from Apollo 17                                           

View of the Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew — astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, commander; astronaut Ronald E. Evans, command module pilot; and scientist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt, lunar module pilot — traveling toward the moon. This translunar coast photograph extends from the Mediterranean Sea area to the Antarctica South polar ice cap.

Go to the top

John Watts’ Play Reading, James Lawson & Ing’s Photographs

“Join us for an evening of romance, and heartbreak, and tears, and Fred Astaire, and etc……Thursday, February 25th, at 6:30 at The Players, Gramercy Park South, NYC”

“Some great actors reading my play, The Bookstore, at The Players on Thursday night, February 25th.”

Left to right: Katie Muciolo Kolins, Trudy Steibl, Shana Farr, Jeffrey Hardy and Milton Elliot” John posted on Facebook



Paul, the owner of a used bookstore, only allows outsiders to enter on his terms, defining his existence through books that surround him.  Julie, a dreamer, hides in a protective wall of images from her nostalgic preoccupation with Hollywood movies.  Julie’s interest in books on Hollywood brings her into Paul’s shop.  An attraction of opposites brings a conflict of survival strategies in a world that both find threatening.  Julie’s Hollywood obsession is a shield against abandonment by her father and then her husband.  Paul’s bookstore protects him from the outside world and a fear of commitment to others.  Both reach for companionship but are held back by a lifetime of missteps.  Encounters with friends help shed light on issues between them.  Julie’s protective mother, Mrs. Thompson looks out for Julie’s interests and a potential husband while Mrs. G, Paul’s neighbor, and George the mailman, have similar instincts toward Paul. 

John said “I couldn’t resist taking this photo on the Path last night”

On Thursday, February 25th, 2016 I accompanied John to New York City for his play “The Bookstore” reading at The Players, Gramercy Park South, NYC.  John was very lucky to have great actors reading his romantic comedy.  The actors are Katie Muciolo Kolins as Mrs. Gee, Trudy Steibl as Mrs. Thompson, Shana Farr as Julie, Jeffrey Hardy as Paul and Milton Elliot as George, and Portia Adney was kind enough to read the stage directions.  The reading went very well.  The audience seemed to enjoy the story.

The reading and the feedback allowed john to begin his rewrite developing his story and characters with more depth and clarity.  After the reading there was a discussion and comments from the audience.  James Lawson the organizer of the Writers@ThePlayers, lead the discussion offering his analysis first.  The writers always appreciate the comments, they help the writers to see the weak areas, which may help them improve in the rewriting of the play.

Some of us went to the lounge for food, drink, and further discussion .  James Lawson showed us some of his creative and beautiful snow photographs from his farm, some of which are shown below.

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts, February 28th, 2016

James Lawson’s Photographs

As to descriptions:

 …. playing with my new I-pad during Blizzard Jonas, 2016 and the after-thaw in rural Rhode Island while house sitting the family farm at Earth Care Farm.  Charlestown, R.I.

 Golden sun set

Covered hay bale

See the cow?

Earth Care Farm

The turkey caught me!

Blizzard at night

My grand-niece, Caitlin

Pix for you and great to see you, as always!

Hi Jim,

Thank you very much for your lovely pictures.  You are a very good photographer.  Your composition is very good.  It gives a good impression what you want others to understand and feel.  Your grand-niece, Caitlin is a very pretty girl.  The stained glass door looking out to the white blanket of snow makes one feels comfortable to be inside looking at the coldness, yet the beautiful scenery beyond the pretty flowers and green leaves of the entry is still enticing.     

Do you mind if I post your pictures on my website Blog page?  If it is OK please email the place and date of the pictures or any descriptions that you would like to help us to understand your feeling about the place and the scenery.

It was nice to see you last night.  John always learns and appreciates from your comments.

Hope to see you soon.


Ing & John

Please send me (snow scenery) IMG_0036 in photo (JPEG) form.

Hi Ing,

 Sure you can use the photos on your blog. The image you asked me to send is a video (according to my I-pad) , but I was just trying to make a photo.

 As I said, I’m new to the I-pad. The “video” runs all of about 3 seconds, so you aren’t missing much.

 As to descriptions:

 …. playing with my new I-pad during Blizzard Jonas, 2016 and the after-thaw in rural Rhode Island while house sitting the family farm at Earth Care Farm.

 Charlestown, R.I.

Thank you Jim; you are a very generous person.  I will send you the link after I post your pictures.

Please keep taking more pictures to inspire others with your gifted ability.




 The following are more of my photographs from our sculpture garden, the last year,  2015:

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts’ Sculpture

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts’ Sculpture

Above photographs are John Watts’ Large Sculptures in our backyard garden, downtown Newark, New Jersey

Go to the top

Gandhi: Human Rights and Untouchables

Gandhi: Man Of Peace & His Words                      

 Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts  2010

Gandhi: Human Rights, Peace, Nonviolence and Untouchables

Gandhi: Human Rights and Untouchables

Untouchables are million Indians who are at the bottom of Indian society.  They do all the lowest jobs, for example they empty and clean the chamber pots and live in very poor conditions.  The upper caste Hindu Indians treat the untouchables inhumanly.  Gandhi expressed his utmost concern for this group of people.  He declared that Indians must reject the idea of untouchables.  It was too much like racial prejudice most white showed toward Indians and Africans.

Gandhi & Spinning Wheel Of Life         

Artwork by Ing-On  Vibulbhan-Watts 2010 

Gandhi’s  Words:

My fight against untouchability is a fight against impure in humanity.

Anger, lust, and such other evil passions raging in the heart are the real untouchables.

“Remember Gandhi-The Man Of His Century”          

Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts  2000

At twenty seven years old Gandhi was practicing a philosophy of self reliance in 1897.  He set up an example by doing personal chores such as washing and ironing his own clothes.  He also studied medical literature and become a self-taught house doctor.  He even assisted in the birth of his third son, Ramdas. 

“Remember Gandhi-The Man Of His Century”          

Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts  2000

At sixty three years old Gandhi founded a newspaper, Harijan to deal with the issue of the Untouchables in 1933.  In August 1933, he was released from jail.  He began a twelve-thousand-mile pilgrimage throughout India in November.  He traveled for nine months; his purpose was to persuade caste Hindus to give up prejudice toward Untouchables.  

“Remember Gandhi-The Man Of His Century”         

Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts  2000

Gandhi & Ing’s Poem, Peace Comes To You                   

Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts  2010


May Peace be with Mr. Rohith Vemula, his family, and all humanity.

 Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts, Friday, January 22, 2016


 Why are Indias Dalit students taking their lives?








Soutik Biswas  Delhi correspondent

20 January 2016

Rohith Vemula, a PhD student at Hyderabad Central University, Killed himself on Sunday.

“My birth is my fatal accident… I always was rushing. Desperate to start a life… I am not sad. I am just empty. Unconcerned about myself. That’s pathetic. And that’s why I am doing this.”

These are excerpts from the last letter – “this kind of letter for the first time” – that Rohith Vemula, a PhD student at Hyderabad Central University wrote before he killed himself on Sunday.

It is, at once, an eloquent and chilling suicide note: a young man who loved “science, stars, nature and people”, and aspired to become a science writer like Carl Sagan, ended up defeated and crushed by discrimination and apathy.

‘Steadily isolated’

Mr Vemula, 26, was one of five Dalit – formerly known as untouchable – students who were protesting against their expulsion from the university’s housing facility. India’s 180 million Dalits are among its most wretched citizens, because of an unforgiving and cruel caste hierarchy that condemns them to the bottom of the heap.

Mr Vemula and the four other students faced allegations last August that they attacked a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) – the student wing of the governing Hindu nationalist BJP – on the campus. Some reports say an investigation had found no “conclusive evidence” of the assault.

Last year the students had also protested against the execution of Yakub Memon, the man convicted of financing the deadly 1993 Mumbai bombings and the right-wing ABVP’s stalling of a documentary film on the Muzaffarnagar riotsin Delhi University.

One newspaper said the sequence of events leading to Mr Vemula’s death shows how he was “steadily isolated by campus authorities and his appeals went largely unheard”.

The university stopped paying his monthly stipend of 25,000 rupees ($369; £258) allegedly because he raised issues under the campus’s Dalit-led students union.

It also began an investigation into his – and his friends – conduct. In August federal minister Bandaru Dattatreya, a BJP junior minister, wrote a letter to the federal education ministry complaining that the university had become a “den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics”.

In September, Mr Vemula and four other students were suspended – although the minister denies this was linked to his missive, which he says was not about the Dalit students, but a general comment on the restive campus.

Image copyright Press Trust of India Image caption

There have been countrywide protests against Mr. Vemuli’s death.


Image  copyright  Facebook image Image caption

Mr. Vemula was accused of allegedly assaulting a student

Mr Vemula’s death has sparked off a firestorm of protest across India.

Poet and writer Meena Kandasamy says the student’s suicide was “not just an individual exit strategy, it is a shaming of society that has failed him or her“. She wrote “education has now become a disciplining enterprise working against Dalit students: they are constantly under threat of rustication, expulsion, defamation, discontinuation”.

Mr Vemula’s is not an exceptional story of caste discrimination on India’s campuses. One report said eight Dalit students had taken their lives “unable to cope” with caste politics at Hyderabad University in the past decade. Between 2007 and 2011 alone, 18 Dalit students ended their lives in some of India’s premier educational institutes, according to another estimate.

Shocking abuse

Some eight years ago, Apoorvanand, who teaches at Delhi University, had gone to Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences, India’s leading medical school, to investigate a case of discrimination against a Dalit student.

He says he found vile abuses written on the doors and walls of hostel rooms where Dalit students lived. (There was no name calling, because direct abuse would lead to prosecution under tough anti-discrimination laws.) When he went to the director of the institute to lodge a complaint, the latter flatly denied that there was caste discrimination on the campus.

This is a school which produces India’s best doctors. This is also the school where a federal investigation into complaints of caste-based harassment and discrimination against Dalit and tribal students uncovered a shocking picture of abuse.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption

Indias 180 million Dalits are among its most disprivileged citizens

The probe found most of the Dalit and tribal students complaining that they “did not receive the kind of support other students received from their teachers”. Examiners asked about their caste backgrounds. The students said teachers did not give them the marks they deserved in exams, and their papers were not evaluated properly. More than 90% of the students said they were routinely humiliated by examiners in practical and oral examinations.

“There is systemic persecution of Dalit students in Indian universities. They are often failed by their teachers deliberately,” Apoorvanand told me.

Many Dalit students who get into colleges and universities through affirmative action quotas – restorative justice for centuries of historical wrongs against the community – come to campuses with deficiencies in education, including a feeble command over the English language. Most of them are first generation graduates, come from poor families – like Mr Vemula, born of a father who works as a security guard and a mother who’s a tailor – and often struggle to fit in.

Fierce competition

India’s colleges and universities are theatres of fierce competition and confrontation: only a privileged few manage to get a limited number of seats through fiercely contested exams.

Upper caste students, say many, have a “natural hatred and antagonism” for the Dalits and tribespeople who take up seats reserved for their communities. “There is a lot of anger against affirmative action and their beneficiaries, but then there is little the upper castes can do about it because the quotas are constitutionally mandated,” says Apoorvanand.

So the students are shamed and mocked at as “quota students”, and their abilities mocked. In absence of effective student support groups or university structures, warning meltdown signals among suffering students are ignored.

Fed up with the way things were going, Mr Vemula wrote to the university authorities in December to allow him to die and even spoke about how they could help him and his Dalit friends end his life. The authorities apparently did nothing.

Politicians are accused of not confronting this appalling discrimination with the zeal it deserves.

Instead, Dalit and tribals have also become pawns in India’s hideous vote bank politics. In modern-day India, the segregation of Dalits begins early: they are separated by markers and coloured wrist bands in classrooms; and forced to clean school toilets. Upper caste school children routinely boycott school lunchescooked by Dalit cooks.

Mr Vemula is just the latest victim of India’s scourge of untouchability.

For more information please visit BBC News, Indian Section. Written by Mr. Soutik Biswas, Delhi correspondent, the link is:  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35349979

Go to the top