On behalf of the editorial committee I warmly welcome you to our August edition of Songsoptok that takes a closer look at the humanitarian practices of the current time. The publication of this edition coincides with the World Humanitarian Day. Since 2009, the United Nations has dedicated August 19 for this observance. The modern times have witnessed ever increasing demands for humanitarian assistance – from the war-strife corners of the world to areas affected by natural disasters. The United Nations aims to increase public awareness about humanitarian assistance activities worldwide by profiling Humanitarian Heroes this year.

At Songsoptok, we want to understand what ‘humanitarianism’ means to our contributors and readers. Consequently, we are publishing 9 interviews of our own ‘humanitarian heroes’ who have been engaged in related activities in various ways. Together, these discourses highlight the challenges and excitements of caring for fellow human beings. We would like to thank all our participants for their time and dedicated effort.

As humanity is compartmentalized by nation, race, religion, and wealth in our ever complex and chaotic world, thereby prompting humanitarian actions, the notion of 'universal man' ("visva manav") championing a plural cosmopolitanism becomes more relevant. Our discussions on humanitarianism won’t be complete without a reference to Rabindranath Tagore who embraced this universal man in his life and work. It is in August that Tagore left this mortal world some seventy-four years ago. We pay tribute to this great humanist of the 20th century through an interview and an essay.

We round out the World Humanitarian Day issue with a collection of poems by our regular contributor Chryssa Velissariou. Chryssa’s work explores multiple facets of humanitarianism, from the abyss of the Greek economic crisis to the depths of human conscience and compassion.

Besides the special features, the current issue includes the regular sections on poetry and story. Songsoptok encourages our readers to share their thoughts, ideas, opinions, feelings and above all emotions through creative writing. It aspires to become the conduit for all writers irrespective of their countries of origin or background, a dedicated platform for sharing their creative genius through the World Wide Web.

It is our sincere hope that this issue of Songsoptok will be as thought provoking for you as the past ones and you will be encouraged to continue supporting this webzine with your own contributions.

Subhodev Das


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