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Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.
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Ashok Malhotra

Oneonta’s 1st TEDx Talk Greeted With Enthusiasm

Oneonta’s 1st TEDx Talk

Greeted With Enthusiasm

Speakers at the first Oneonta TEDx Talk, above, bringing a national phenomenon to the City of the Hills, recognize applause from attendees at the end of this afternoon’s program at Foothills. From left are retired SUNY philosophy professor Ashok Malhotra; Green Earth proprietor Dean Roberts, Core Energy leadership coach Bill Berthel, Bainbridge, Westchester Symphonic Winds conductor Curt Ebersole, Australian tennis coach Emma Doyle, LEAF Executive Director Julie Dostal, and Sara Elbert and Sohail Zandi, proprietors of Brushland Eating House, the Bovina restaurant.  The 100 attendees –  the number was limited by the national Ted Talks organization until Oneonta has a track record, also brainstormed on Oneonta’s challenges and opportunities, identifying outmigration of young people and lack of good jobs as key problems.  TEDx Talks, the local version, is now planning TEDx Oneonta Women on Nov. 2, Dan Buttermann, who chaired the organizing committee and emceed today, announced at the end of the afternoon.  In photo at left, Butterman gets a congratulatory hug from wife Ana Laura.  Hartwick College, NYCM and the Otsego County Chamber were major sponsors.   (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

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Zambello, Malhotra Among ‘Be Positive Fest’ Headliner
CLICK FOR FULL ‘BE POSITIVE FEST’ SCHEDULE

Zambello, Malhotra Among

‘Be Positive Fest’ Headliners

COOPERSTOWN – Glimmerglass Festival Artistic & General Director Francesca Zambello and her spouse Faith Gay, the corporate lawyer, will speak on “Art & Justice” at 3:15 p.m. in the First Presbyterian Church chapel at Saturday’s Be Positive Festival.

Other headliners will include Virginia Kennedy, former Otsego Land trust executive director, returning to discuss environmental justice, and retired SUNY Oneonta Philosophy Professor Ashok Malhotra, a Nobel Prize nominee.

Here is the complete schedule of Be Positive Festival speakers:

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The Ashok Malhotra Story: THE NIGHTINGALE & THE FIREFLY

The Ashok Malhotra Story

THE NIGHTINGALE

& THE FIREFLY

(A Three-Part Series)

Ashok Malhotra, second row, third from left, in a cadet's uniform with the rest of his high school class in Ferozepur, India.
Ashok Malhotra, second row, third from left, in a cadet’s uniform with the rest of his high school class in Ferozepur, India.

ashok thenashok today“A nightingale had flown far from her nest, seeking food for her fledglings, and it was night, dark night.  Lost, at the end of a branch, she wept.

“Along came a firefly and, learning of the nightingale’s plight, guided her home by his tiny light.”

“Even thought you are small, you can perform miracles,” his grandfather told Ashok Malhotra, who 70 years later is a retired founding professor of SUNY Oneonta’s Philosophy Department, founder of the philanthropic Ninash Foundation, and nominated multiple times for the Nobel Prize.  “You can be the hope in the darkness.”

PART I: Boyhood, Interrupted

PART II:  Chance, Romance Change Everything

PART III:  In Ninash, Love Lives

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Boyhood, Interrupted

THE NIGHTINGALE & THE FIREFLY/PART I

Boyhood, Interrupted

Ashok Malhotra with portraits he painted from memory and photos of family members, including his grandfather, Hari C. Chopra, upper left, and father, Nihal Malhotra. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Ashok Malhotra with portraits he painted from memory and photos of family members and boyhood scenes, including of his grandfather, Hari C. Chopra, upper left, and father, Nihal Malhotra, upper right.(Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Editor’s Note: This is the first article in a three-part series on Ashok Malhotra, who retired in December after almost a half-century in SUNY Oneonta’s Philosophy Department.  In was published in Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal on Feb. 25-26, 2016.

By JIM KEVLIN • for www.AllOTSEGO.com

Ashok's grandfather, Hari C. Chopra, whose stories influenced his grandson's early view of the world.
Ashok’s grandfather, Hari C. Chopra, whose stories influenced his grandson’s early view of the world.

ONEONTA – When Ashok Malhotra was 5 or 6, his grandfather told him a story.

A nightingale had flown far from her nest, seeking food for her fledglings, and it was night, dark night.  Lost, at the end of a branch, she wept.

Along came a firefly and, learning of the nightingale’s plight, guided her home by his tiny light.

“Even thought you are small, you can perform miracles,” his grandfather told him.  “You can be the hope in the darkness.”

Malhotra, who has been nominated repeatedly for a Nobel Prize since 2010, retired from SUNY Oneonta in December after a 48-year career there and 75 years of a life full of tribulations and accomplishments, taking him from a modest home in the small town of Ferozepur, near the India-Pakistan border, half-way across the globe to a bright, meticulously maintained home on Center Street.

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Chance, Romance Change Everything

 THE NIGHTINGALE & THE FIREFLY/PART II

Chance, Romance

Change Everything

Ashok Malhotra and Nina Finestone in the days after their chance meeting in late 1965 in the basement snack back of NYU’s Loeb Student Center.
Ashok Malhotra and Nina Finestone in the days after their chance meeting in late 1965 in the basement snack back of NYU’s Loeb Student Center.

Editor’s Note: This is the second article in a three-part series on Ashok Malhotra, who retired in December after almost a half-century in SUNY Oneonta’s Philosophy Department.  In was published in Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal on March 3-4, 2016.

By JIM KEVLIN • for www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – His first snowstorm, magical white flakes falling out of the night sky: It was a pivotal point in his life.

“It was like being in heaven,” Ashok Malhotra remembers.

It was Dec. 21, 1965, and he and Nina Finestone, after cleaning up from his 24th birthday party, had just left the apartment near the NYU campus where he rented a room.

Just three days before, Ashok and a pal – another foreign student – had been chatting in the snack bar in the basement of the Loeb Student Center.   “The door opens,” he remembers, “and a beautiful woman walks in.”

“Are you people from Pakistan?” she asks.

“No, we’re from India,” he replies.

“Do you have four wives?”

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In Ninash, Love Lives

 THE NIGHTINGALE & THE FIREFLY/PART III

In Ninash, Love Lives

"From shoka comes shloka," Ashok Malhotra reflects. "One has to suffer tragedy to become serious about life. Hard times decide our fate." (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com
“From shoka comes shloka,” Ashok Malhotra reflects. “One has to suffer tragedy to become serious about life. Hard times decide our fate.” (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com

Editor’s Note: This is the third article in a three-part series on Ashok Malhotra, who retired in December after almost a half-century in SUNY Oneonta’s Philosophy Department.  In was published in Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal on March 10-11, 2016.

By JIM KEVLIN • for www.AllOTSEGO.com

Nina, her husband's inspiration in life, and in death.
Nina, her husband’s inspiration in life, and in death.

ONEONTA – On Aug. 28, 1967, Ashok Malhotra completed his journey from the Sutlej to the Susquehanna, arriving in Oneonta, 6,952 miles away from his native Ferozepur, on one of those brilliant late-summer days, little knowing it would still be his home almost a half-century later.  

“All the stores were on Main Street” – Bresee’s, Sears, J.C. Penney,” he recalled.  Downtown was both retail and business hub.  “People were walking – and dressed so nicely.”

It was long before the Clarion Hotel rose, so he and wife Nina – her parents had driven them up from New York City – could look down busy Broad Street, lined with restaurants and bars past the depot (now Stella Luna) and see the view that inspired “City of the Hills.”

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