The South Asian Life & Times - SALT   
  Summer 2013          



 Summer 2013


Editor's Note


 Adventure & Sport
 Celebrating Everest

 Everest Turns 60
 The First Ascent

 The Summit Route

 Five Ultimate Everest

 The Sherpas

 Apa Sherpa-21 Times
 on Everest

 100 Years of Indian

 Early Pioneers

 Satyajit Ray

 Mani Kaul

 Dr A T Ariyaratne

 Lt Gen Jack Jacob

 Tara Bhattacharjee

 Ashok Vajpeyi 

Into Thin Air

 Coronation Everest

 Odyssey in War &












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Editor’s Note

This is a celebratory issue of Everest turning 60 and Indian cinema turning 100. On 29 May 1953, Hillary and Tenzing became the first humans to stand atop the tallest mountain on Earth. Since that momentous day, sixty years ago, thousands have stood on top of the mountain that had eluded dedicated and skilled mountaineers for long. The past two decades have seen a rapid rise in commercial expeditions to the world’s highest peak. Summit days are busy days on the mountain with long lines of climbers and ‘clients’ often causing traffic jams at The Balcony and  Hillary Step. At times, delays have resulted in deaths on slopes that are already littered with corpses. The SALT feature on Everest, referenced from many respected and credible sources, is all about the best of climbers, the Sherpas, and the surreal experience that begins with the terrifying icy madness of Khumbu Icefall.

We have brought you conversations with people who are like Everest in their own right – Satyajit Ray – the cinematic giant; Dr A T Ariyaratne – the giant of empowerment; Ashok Vajpeyi – the intellectual giant; Lt Gen Jack Jacob – who stands as tall as Everest in his forthrightness and duty; and Tara Bhattacharjee - the gentle giant crusader of Khadi.

The heart-breaking news from Boston and Bangladesh has left the world stunned.  Innocent deaths.  Rana Plaza – a grandiose name for a building that housed five garment factories, where workers earned as little as $40 a month stitching clothes – was a ready script for disaster.  Three illegally added floors, unenforced building codes, heavy machinery placed in a structure made of substandard materials, non-existent regulatory monitoring - an endless list of complacency, gross negligence, and corruption as a result of which, over 900 people died in Savar, the textile suburb of Dhaka   in the country’s worst industrial disaster. Unfortunately, the disaster script is a template of what has happened before and will continue to happen time and again in all societies where corruption and moral degeneration have become inherent in the psyche of those who wield power. In this instance, the safety of the weak and marginalised was compromised for personal gains – yet again an oft occurring situation in our societies where many are forced to work for a living in unsafe and unhealthy conditions.

Writers, poets, activists, artists, film makers – the collective conscience of any society – have addressed exploitation, corruption and oppression – and we’ve had several able administrators and police officers with spotless careers who have taken steps in the right direction.  But it has not been enough - our societies need more of the latter. Speaking on disintegration of ethics, Satyajit Ray once said, “Films cannot change society. They never have. Show me a film that changed society or brought about any change…. You are attacking people who don't care.” So true the words “Don’t care.”
On a happier note, Dr Ariyaratne has shown that a change for the better is indeed possible and has happened through people’s participatory efforts.
Hope is a wonderful word.

Happy and safe uphill climbing – All!

Roopa Bakshi



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