Bengali Passion

208 Comments

One of the favouritest past-times of the argumentative Bengali, usually over noisy slurps of tea, bites of aloor chop and intermittent puffs on Gold Flake, is to apportion blame for Bengal’s marginalization in national politics, the economy and even culture in post-Independence India. For politics, the schism between Subhash Bose and Gandhi is considered to be the starting point of Bengal’s steadily decreasing influence over Delhi. The freight equalization policy that took away much of Bengal’s locational advantage and the Congress-party-held Center’s discriminatory fiscal policies towards CPM-ruled Bengal, both as retribution for repeatedly electing a non-Congress party as well as to favour Congress-held states (or states where they had a decent chance of winning) are considered universally (and rightfully) to be two of the major factors for Bengal’s economic marginalization. And lording over these factors is the ubiquitous, inexorable CPM-led militant trade unionism from the 60s to the 90s that led to a massive flight of industrial capital from the state—-though this contributory factor is likely to be debated vehemently by the hard-core Leftists, a breed that is thankfully being slowly supplanted by the pragmatic Leftist as exemplified by Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.

But what usually happens during these heated discussions is that possibly the single most important cause for Bengal’s decline is overlooked—the ‘passion’ of the Bengali, a passion which the present interlocutor is frequently not above.

Perhaps the best realization of the passionate Bengali spirit is the character of Apu, the quintessential Bengali young man of Bibhutibhushan’s “Pather Panchali” and “Aparajito” (subsequently immortalized by Ray), a romantic, supremely idealistic intellectual whose passion for life enables him to rise above the death and poverty all around him.
In pre-Independent India, it was this kind of positive passion that led to Bengal emerging as the frontline of violent revolutionary struggle against the British and fuelled the cultural Renaissance of the early 20th century.

But once India attained independence and the intellectual base of the great Bengal awakening started whithering away, this passion found expression in trade union violence, jingoism and stultifying intellectual pride. An unhealthy obsession with culture and the glories of the past started paralysing the Bengali working classes—action was for those “other unenlightened states”, we Bengalis were content to argue, score debating points and discuss Fellini and Bergman. After all we had the “cultural capital” moniker to uphold. Let the state economy go to the dogs—we are above such corporeal concepts.

Bhabotosh Dutta, the great economist and teacher, in his autobiography talked about a man in Writer’s Building who did no work. When he enquired why he did not, his colleagues told Bhabotosh-babu, without any trace of irony “Please do not ask him to work. He does ‘culture’.”

Had there been less of this passion and more of the pragmatism, workers would have realized that while striking work for bonuses even while the plant suffered financial setbacks may seem like classical Marxian class struggle against the bourgeoisie, it would be they who will be the worst sufferers once the company cuts it losses, locks its doors and goes elsewhere. No matter how much we blame Jyoti Basu for running the state to ground, he and his CPM goons weren’t aliens flown in from Vulcan. What sustained Basu’s populist policies and rhetoric against multinationals and Western capital was the misguided idealism of his people, the people who joined CPM trade unions in large numbers because CITU was sh taking revenge for all our comrades in Vietnam by kicking Western-capital controlled businesses out of Bengal. That it was Bengal’s economy that was suffering as a result and not the multinationals was lost amidst all the hot air and the ‘Inquilab Zindabad’s.

A small experiment to convince yourself of how the Bengali has contributed to his own decline. Go to a sari shop run by a Bengali. Look at one sari or kurta. Look at another. And another. And another. By this time, the average Bengali shopkeeper will become irritated (again note the word “average”, there will always be exceptions). You will be lucky if you can escape without a scowl or a grumble or sometimes downright rudeness. Go to a similar shop by a Marwari. He will patiently and silently do the same things with not even a slight gesture of anger. Unlike the passionate Bengali, the Marwari shopkeeper realizes that this is simply ‘business’ and an expression of ‘passion’ would lead him to a loss of a potential customer. Which is why Marwari businesses have flourished in Kolkata at the expense of Bengali ones. However the passionate Bengali refuses to acknowledge the root cause of the success of the Marwaris and react by grumbling how all the nice houses have been taken over by those ‘rich Marwaris’.

As another example, consider the latest hullabaloo over Tata’s land acquisition in Singur. In a cruel twist of irony, it is the CPM which is now on the side of the industrialists and firebrand Mamata who is adapting the old-school CPM style of political expression that consists of disruption, destruction and vocal chords to win over popular support for a cause that is clearly detrimental to the economic progress of the state. The party may have changed and so have the times but the perceived political benefits of appealing to the passionate core of the Bengali heart has not.

If Apu symbolized the romantic, impulsive and intellectual Bengali, it is in many ways Mamata Banerjee who represents the twisted bastardization of the ideals of Apu in today’s Bengal. Shorn of the intellectual foundation of the Apus of years gone by and yet keen to come off as supremely enlightened, she touts her fake PhD as a certificate for her intellectual bonafides. Her heightened emotions do not lead her down the path of enlightenment but to hysteria—one day she resigns from the cabinet, the next day she is in tears, the day after that she is yelling down the Speaker and  then over the weekend she flies off into sullen silence. She has little by way of new ideas. Her weapons are rhetoric, theatrics, bandhs, disruption and vandalism.

In that she mirrors a vocal section of the Bengali bhadralok of today whose lack of substance is covered by a smokescreen of passionate iconization and self-congratulatory bluster. While these people will gladly twist the windpipe of any philistine who may hint that he prefers Raj Kapoor to Satyajit Ray, they will let the Charulata DVD gather dust on their shelves along with the multiple volumes of Rabindranath’s collected works. While they will claim to be true connoisseurs of cricket, they will stay totally silent when an opponent scores a century and indulge in the worst form of crowd violence and pelting of a player with rubbish when he feel “cheated” by his team, in the process refusing to acknowledge the personal dignity of a sportsman, the cornerstone to understanding and appreciating sport. Incidentally, I am not implying that the true Bengali intellectuals are dead, as a matter of fact they are very much alive. All that I am saying is that the people making the most noise about Bengali culture are not them.

And worst of all, these faux intellectuals will hark back to Bengal’s glorious past at every opportunity and take solace for the state’s loss of influence in India’s economy through ridiculous assertions like the one made by Suhel Seth (who incidentally is not a Bengali by birth but considers himself an honorary one)

Bengal produces more civilised people in a day than Delhi will produce till 2012 – if and when we host the Commonwealth Games.

What a load of crap ! And we wonder why anti-Bengalism is such a strong feeling in most states of India.

Again let me repeat. Bengal has had it bad after independence because of several external factors. There has been discrimination and pretty severe ones at that — whether it be for allocation of Central funds or selection in the cricket team. But too often these injustices are used to explain away our personal shortcomings and our self-serving agendas. For instance when we skip office and shout on the street corner for Dada’s inclusion, we convince ourselves that we are not cheating our employers by leaving work but merely discharging our duties as true-blue, passionate Bengalis. When we strike work and get an extra holiday, we justify the losses suffered by the government and industry as a sacrifice necessary for recognizing the “spontaneous display of emotion” by the people.

But there are positive stirrings now. People like Buddhadeb have realized that the “cultural capital” spiel is beginning to wear thin and we need economic growth. And we need it fast. Buddhadeb is trying to do something good, bring back the industries that once fled, trying to change Bengal’s horrible industry image as a hot-bed for red hot trade unionism. He has realized that roads and trade zones are more important than an extension to Nandan, Calcutta’s cultural complex and a library for Trotsky. But still there are people like Mamata and her cohorts who are dead eager to push Bengal back to paradoxically the darkest days of CPM rule.

What has been encouraging is that for the first time in many years, public sentiment is with Buddhadeb , on the side of the pragmatists and against the disrupters. Which is undeniably a good thing.

Cause it is high time that we got off our cultural highorses and realized that all the intellectual hot air, the generational hurt, the cultural feel-good and the “what Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow” wishy-washy cannot compensate or justify the lack of jobs and opportunities in our beloved state.

About these ads

208 thoughts on “Bengali Passion

  1. Pingback: DesiPundit » Archives » Bengali Passion

  2. Great Bong, brilliant post as usual. Have been reading your blog for a year now, but this is the first time that I am commenting. Am just too happy to be the first to comment….

  3. Mr Bong..

    in between the happenings at Singur, what is interesting to note is CPM’s Man Friday Yechury playing a defining role in the parliament in support of Buddhadeb. The fact that this is the same man who holds Dr Singh’s government by their collective balls on all economic related issues is not lost. Moreover his party has always raised opposition when similar stance taken by other state govts — terming them as decisions taken against public interest. Well what it displays is that the Left has the right to define “public interest”…. ‘LEFT is RIGHT’

  4. Wonderful comment on the current state of affairs in Bengal and the public sentiments! We, Bengalees fail to comprehend that we are no longer a force, sometimes a subject of joke outside Bengal, for our constant harping about our glorious past and rich tradition. And the ‘Kalidas’ attitude of disruption of self development is probably possible only in Bengal. People from the most backward states in India also seem to understand better what is good and and is bad for them. The fault is not with Mamata Banerjee. THe fault is with our system of idolizing the superficial heroes, the intellectuals, the people with always a different point of view. Mamata with her ‘firebrand’ image is just a symbol of our own destructive nature. And how she has inherited the glorious image of Left in the 70s, 80s and mid 90s.
    You said that the public sentiment is with Buddhadev. But the alarming thing is, the more the Singur episode is gaining prominence in national media, the more political opportunists are joining in to cash on the populist track. And because of this coverage of the ‘Farmers beaten by Police’ more and more people outside of Bengal are getting a distorted view of the actual things happening in Bengal. And with the possibility of Medha Patekar joining the fray it is getting even worse.
    Mamata’s political ambition and approach baffles me. But what baffles me more is that there are still people around who would not hesitate to create havoc in the Assembly for a wrong cause. Who are these people? Do they actually believe that what they were doing was right? The fact that there is still a large section of the society who would destroy anything related to the industrial development in Bengal is really alarming. Mamata is jsut the face of it. CITU is not too different from it. But the existance of the people behind these forces is the driving factor for it. As long as we have these people with the disruptive and destructive nature in them among ourselves, Bengal is destined ot go downhill in terms of development. And it will probably not be possible for a dozen Buddhadevs to turn things around, for it will be too late by then.

  5. GB,

    Provoking post,

    My “do aane”

    1. While I think freight equalization was an asinine policy, I doubt its intent was specifically anti-bengal.

    2. I will agree with that usually Congress punished states who dared to defy its writ.However there was one additional factor which was flight of entrepreneurship capital which hurt bengal more than flight of MNCs.

    3. I think while Bengal was (and is) foremost in intellect, Bengali culture lacks in entrepreneurship.
    It is not unique to Bengal, same is the case with Marathis.
    In mumbai commerce is dominated by marwaris, gujaratis, and parsees.

  6. Gaurav,

    Freight equalization was aimed at taking away Bengal and Bihar’s advantage in favour of certain other states (that shall go nameless) that had a strong presence in Congress-decision-making circles. I do not think GB anywhere said that freight equalization was done to victimize Bengalis. It was done to favour others at the cost of Bengal and also Bihar.

    GB,

    An excellent analysis. It is the mark of the true intellectual to be able to introspect and criticize, dispassionately and yet without attention-grabbing self-flagellation, that part of one’s identity that one values the most. You do it beautifully. Thank you for this lovely post. I am forwarding this to all my ‘thinking’ friends.

  7. I think the same argument would hold for many states. Progress and development issues are never raised and a lot of noise is raised on trivial regional issues.
    @Gaurav
    Having lived in Mumbai for quite a time, I doubt if you could make general remark like that for Marathis. But the issue is used quite a lot to create a feeling of alienation towards people from other states.

  8. Good article.

    As an outsider, I am stunned at the social composition of Bengalis vis-a-vis the southern states. It seems an inexpicably large number of bengalis are outside the social justice net. Normally, this would not be a problem and would be a cause of celebration. However, as idealistic as this is, it is going to result in lost opportunities because no one else (not even the Kerala CPM) is playing the “class” game. The 18,000 crores spent on the OBC quota in AIIMS/IIT/IIMs is not going to do much to bengalis because only 6 out of every 100 bengalis are going to be eligible for the quota (compared to 72 tamils, 55 keralites, etc). Assam shares this problem with Bengal.

    Coming to Muslims, I am reading the Sachar report and I am quite stunned that the elite Mappilah of Kerala muslims are classified as backward but 97% of bengali muslims are not. I am afraid Sachar has a valid point here, quite indisputable.

    These are the practical issues that matter on the ground. Bengal is increasingly irrelevant in national politics because it is not in the team that plays the social game. It is not even in the stadium. It is like asking why Mexico is irrelevant in cricket. (Maybe a bad analogy but close enough)

  9. An excellent post Arnabda. Couldn’t agree more with your viewpoint, especially since I have grown up outside Bengal and have had the chance of observing the system from the outside without becoming a part of it.
    I would like to comment on one particular point that you have raised about the sari shop owner. While agreeing to your observation fully, I would go one step further and say that sometimes it has happened that we have become uncomfortable in a Marwari’s or Punjabi’s sari shop as he himself pulled down more and more saris. We would sometimes say (being passionate Bengalis), “Leave it, don’t show more. You’ll have to pick it up again, after all we’ll take only one.” But the owner would only smile and say that it didn’t matter, and we should see everything before we bought. This not only helps him to make that sale, but also increases the probability that the same customer will return to his shop the next time.
    Another aspect of Bengalis that really irritates me is the inherent aversion to adopt modern technology. Recently I went to the biggest photo studio in Salt Lake (Kolkata) and told them to print some photos from my digital camera. They told me that they would deliver the prints after two days as they did not have the machine. The same job was done here at a tiny studio in Hyderabad instantly.
    While I agree that “culturally” Bengal is superior to many parts of India, the Bengalis have become the laughing stock of the nation over the recent years due to brooding over their cultural superiority, Mamata’s antics and the bandh politics (of every damn party) there. I hope things are taking a better turn now.
    Just an observation: Bengalis use the word “non-Bengali” a lot. Have you heard a similar pharase in use by any of the other people of India?

  10. My first experience with a bengali was when I had a room partner from Calcutta. He generally used to smoke a lot, and mention “It’s not a taboo in Bengal to smoke. It’s accepted unlike these Maharashtrians’..
    Another thing he used to stress often is “Bengalis ko dhanda karna nahi aata”..

    Both of them have been confirmed by your post.

  11. GB…

    I Still feel Bengal has it old world culturally forward intellectually forward society intact today.(That is probably becuase I am a south Indian who has never been there and the only Bengal he knows is what he read in standard 7 History books).Interesting to know things might not be as good as I thought they were

  12. Pingback: Bengali dreams and nightmares « Forming and Storming

  13. A very insightful, honest and introspective post.
    Idealism is all cute and full of promise during a revolution but once the (political) change has taken place – reality sets in. Idealism is of little use to tackle ground realities and like you said anyone ignoring practical implications and blindly following ideals to the letter is more interested in the “feel-good” component than any actual results. Pointing the compass a little southwards – the sympathy for the LTTE in TN falls into this category.

  14. YOURFAN writes:
    @GB: Excellent, unbiased post.
    I don’t think all the Apus of West Bengal are lost – they are still there in villages, dark corners of the cities about whom we don’t know that well. You still can find them if you want to look closely and that is why we still see the bauls who have the passion to just sing on in spite of abject poverty, we see half fed teachers still showing the magic light of knowledge to their ill fed students, filmmakers making ‘intellectual no noncommercial films’ etc. It is not that they are not aware of greener pastures of life but are not willing to go to the greener pastures because of their idealism – which some might think to be stupidity on their part. But to them it is their idealism. I must admit the numbers of Apus are dwindling because unlike 60s/70s now people are judged not by their convictions but by the money they make.

    Have you ever thought of what our children will learn say after 20 years? Not that we have any dearth of talent but the talent needs nurturing by good teachers. Where are the good teachers– with all the good students gone to greener pastures? If you look at any college and universities of WB (barring a very few and I am not talking about IITs and IIMs) – they are all full of second rate teachers and they are at the helm because the first rung are gone. That is why who ever can afford does send their kids to other places and they stay back there. That is the reason you can see so many successful Bengalis outside Bengal.

    That brings me to the next point. With this background all the mediocre people are running WB. So what can we expect? A vast majority of these people don’t have the knowledge or the inclination to know about the realities that if they strike and fight for a non existent bonus then the company will eventually move out. Besides, it is average human psychology to get paid without working (just a bit of slogan shouting for a few days of the month – that is all that is needed) – they don’t feel ashamed to take the wages without actually working for it. Same human psychology plays even more strongly for people with lesser education. Besides with the look at the birth rate of these less-educated people vs. the mediocre people one finds that the first category will outnumber the second category in near future.

    That brings me to the next point. These mediocre people are not to be blamed fully because for generations they have been brainwashed by people like JB to think that everything is their right – having fake ration cards, taking councilor’s fake certificate to get a free bed at the hospitals etc(the list goes on) only because the ‘rich’ are getting away with murder’. Yes JB and his ilk didn’t fly in from Vulcan but they used their perverted logic by exploiting human psychology only for their own gain. Don’t you think that is idealism too – but I must add idealism of worst kind. So what can BB do all by himself when there are Subhas Chakravarti-s with all their mediocre people who have nothing better in life than converge to a meeting within a short span of time? And having MB as an alternative – that is no alternative at all. She is good for nothing although she is not a corrupt politician.

    That brings me to the last point. There still are educated, sensible, observant people in WB who are not partial but are silent. Silent because they are not goons so can’t fight at the level of goons; silent because they can’t act like those mediocre people and these are the reasons they have created a cocoon for themselves and that is definitely not good sign for WB. I might sound a bit despondent here but that is exactly how I feel for my WB.

    We need many many GBs but ‘kothae paabo taare’(Rabindranath Tagore)? Sorry for the long comment – ‘Bengali Passion’ working overtime.

  15. Arnab

    This a long rant, so bear with me. I’m a probashi (pravasi for outsiders :) ) Bengali and my views (based on my observation, jumbled and not in any specific order) may not be too pleasant with many. Anyway.

    1.

    This penchant for nonsensical idealism is usually prevalent among the Bengalis born and brought up in Bengal (you are an exception of course!). A typical native Bengali is very good example of Amartya Sen ‘s “The Argumentative Indian”.

    The real trouble begins when these types travel outside the state and peddle their traits, ending up irritating a whole lot of people. Seriously, not everyone has time for discourses on Latin American politics.

    Native Bengalis, I’ll say are stuck in the 60s, 70s time wrap.

    Last years example, I was at a Puja pandal while at my in-laws place in Salt Lake. One elderly gent had put up a stall displaying ‘party literature’. Among the assorted titles (with Che prominent in many covers) one caught my attention. A cover had a picture from the WWII. A young Red Army soldier atop a broken statue, trying to fix a Soviet Flag somewhere in Leningrad during the famous seize by the German northern Army.
    I casually commented that the picture had nothing to do with commies, but should be a part of any military historians collection.
    Oh man, all the hell broke loose after that. Do I belong to Kolkata? Am I even aware of the commie movement or its ideals? Do I even have the credentials to handle such lofty topics?
    What the fuck? First of all the man had the weird thought to peddle commie smut in a Puja pandal. He does not even had the idea as what truly the picture represents.
    Sense of false superiority and argument just for the sake of it.

    2.

    I’ll agree to an extent with many comments here that culturally Bengal still has an edge over many states. Yeah, I agree given my daily interactions with the Haryanvi gentry here in Delhi (apology to educated and well groomed Haryanvis…but your rustic folks suck).

    3.

    Native Bengalis must forge a modern identity, different from the usual butt of the joke image caused by commie rule. Learn a bit about your cultural history from neutral sources (i.e. beside commie text books), take pride in it and throw away cynicism. Others will come around to respect you.

    Another example. A colleague of mine transferred from Kolkata office permanently to Delhi office at lunch table. We (i.e. parents/grandparents ) apparently hail from some locality in pre-partition Dhaka. Casual discussion on use of swords was an eye opener. My friend dropped a piece of wisdom “Bengalis won’t any hurt you with a needle, what to talk of sword”.
    A quick retort from a North Indian colleague (a history buff) goes like “But I read that the Pala kingdom stretched upto NWFA in present day Pakistan and they used to gather tributes from whole of North India and some kingdoms in SE Asia as well. Sure, Palas were Buddhists, but do you mean to say this all was accomplished by wandering monks?”

    Maybe my friend used to bunk history classes. But shouldn’t the high points of our cultural history be a part of our folklore?
    As I see it such ignorance on part of masses by effectively exploited by the British to fabricate and sell martial race theory.

  16. GB,
    Very interesting article.I’d like to share an experience I had while in IIT Kharagpur. There was this bank branch just outside the campus which used to cater to all our banking needs. It also *so happened* that it also catered to a whole lot of pensioners. This meant that usually in the first week of the month , a long line of pensioners used to form a line almost unto the campus gate. So, we used to ensure that we didnt need to go to the bank in the first week. Having spent nearly 2 years like that, I ended up in an occasionw here I needed to draw cash on the 2nd day of a month. Left with no choice, I joined the queue near the campus gate. 20 minutes passed. Not an inch moved. 30 minutes. ditto. One hour passed and I found myself near the gate still. Curious, I a bandoned the queue and went in to see what was happening – and there was this clerk happily jotting down 1,2,3..on a paper. He had reached 600 when I watched and continued to jot. It was just his whim that had kept the queue not moving. The pensioners were really afraid to question him as they hadd to come back every month and were fearful of upsetting him.
    It really gave a bad impression on bengal to me – though ofcourse I knew it was unfair to form that image.

    BTW, you cannot question bengalis’ fair-mindedness in cricket. Contrary to your claims, they did indeed cheer the opponents -forget century, they even applauded a SA win :-). My tongue is ofcourse firmly on its cheeks :-)

  17. Arnabda & Others,

    A very well balanced and almost perfect analysis at the onset. But subjecting it to critical evaluation would indeed bring to light some grey areas, some weak links of an otherwise strong chain of thought, like any other masterpiece of any maestro.

    Lemme shed some light on one aspect which quite surprisingly got overlooked in your analysis: The Naxal Movement.

    No place has done more harm to its parent state than the small and (previously) innocuous naxalbari. In their heroic mission of reforming the system Charu Mazumdar and Kanu Sanyal ended up wiping away a complete generation(or at least the best of it) from the map of not only bengal but most of eastern India. Make no mistake those who got sucked into the ‘Black Hole’ were the best, the creme-de-la-creme. Jadavpur, Shivpur, Durgapur, Kharagpur all came inside the blanket of Naxal Revolution.

    I am a ‘Prabasi’ Bengali, born and brought up entirely outside bengal and yet thanks to my parents and the social circle I often got to hear about the ‘naxalites’ and those ‘dark uncertain days’. The immediate damage is something almost all of our parents/uncles/aunts would harp upon. Widespread killings, police indiscriminately picking up anone in the target age group of 21-28 for interogation and them never been seen or hear of again and so on and so forth.

    But what I would like to stress is the wider implications, the far more mortal ramifications on the running of the state. The effect this had was similar to taking away the main propulsion jet engines of a rocket or say the locomotive engine of a Rajdhani Express.

    It almost brought the progress of that generation to a jittery halt, immediately bring to an almost perfect stop the chain of developments in all arenas. This was the time when these people were most required, the time when the system was in ‘Emergency’ mode a time when the normal social fabric had taken a heavy beating and pro-active efforts of the erudite was needed to get it back on track.

    It was like a full generation which got wiped off creating a VOID which would prove disastrous in the recovery of the state from the already mess it had fallen to.

    The Bengal saga is undoubtedly incomplete without understandoing that this is what stopped the ‘auto-correction’ mode of the ‘auto-pilot’ called ‘Bangla Society’. Had this not have happened I am quite sure the story of decadence would not have reached such dismal levels as of today. Many more of Buddhadeb’s would have been at at charge and probably much earlier. It would be indeed unfair to overlook this ill fated occurence whiole analysing the cause of such downfall.

    (Remember, this was not a normal ‘herd mentality’ society built out of CONFORMISTS who would rather follow then quention the norms, terribly uncertain of themselves and incredibly lacking the confidence and the courage. This was a state which had a gluttony of such ‘thinkers’ and ‘compulsive debaters’.)

  18. Arnab,

    Well written sir. My first reaction was to take an opposite view- Bengali sentiment, I presume.

    But I do agree about certain things , including the example of the Bengali shopkeeper and the typical Bengali attitude of being superior to all.

    However, one does feel a certain change today. ( Incidentally, I am a probashi now settled in Kolkata for 10 years).The change comes in small forms like people tending to work late without being asked to do so, people attending work on Bandh days ( today being one )and small scale Bengali enterpreneurs slowly making their presence felt.

    I work in the Real Estate sector( in a Bengali run organisation in what used to be a total Marwari domain) and I daresay, that one can feel a change in the attitude of the ‘non-bengali’ investors towards Bengal today.

    About the Singur incident, it may be said that it was turned into a circus by the firebrand lady and then the government walked into a nice little trap laid up by the extreme left!! However, resistance to giving up farmland for industry is not unique to Bengal. The scenario is much the same for SEZ lands in Andhra Pradesh ,Haryana, etc.

    So, though you make strong points , I see some hope somewhere!!Even Dada is back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. I don’t know the entire Singur story, but I find it delicious that the BJP, which calls any movement against the Narmada dam and the relocation/displacement of tribals there an anti-national act, is now firmly set with Mamata against the Left Front in protest against the displacement of farmers! Ah, sweet irony… :)

    I think the basic point here is that if the farmers are willing to sell their land for a reasonable compensation, there is no need for any protest. But if they are forced to sell their land under some “eminent domain” sort of law, then supporting this becomes difficult.

    That is why the Narmada issue is a real one, regardless of the contempt on which we hold Arundhati Roy. And that might just be the crux of the Singur imbroglio.

    We tend to support the governments in each case because we instinctively are on the side of “progress”, and I am guilty of that myself, but there are times when I think, what my reactions would be if the government decides that my house was perfect for a new road leading to the SEEPZ (Software Park) and therefore should be demolished for “progress” of the country. So it can give me some money and ask me to settle down in Mira Road or Bhiwandi or somewhere.

    I have a feeling my enthusiasm for national progress would be dampened somewhat…

    Nothing I have said earlier condones anything the “Momota di” has done. All I am saying is – we need to get the whole Singur story straight before automatically giving Buddhadev a clean chit.

  20. Today, 13th and 14th Kolkata Bandh! Endless cups of gorom cha, animated, heated discussions about the state of Bengal, a good book under the lep, once the heat has subsided and general lolling around the house. C’mon Arnab, don’t grudge the average lazy Bengalis of such divine pleasures of life.

  21. Just an incidental comment, Arnab, to show the extent of stagnation of the Bong-on-the-street. The sari-shop incident finds mention almost exactly in Sayyed Mujtaba Ali’s work, I forget which, and the culture-laced jingoistic braying of the scum of the Calcutta pond is dealt with scathing disappoinment by Narayn Gangopadhay in a particular episode of Sunando’s Journal. Both Ali and Gangopadhay were, I’m sure you’ll agree, part of the intelligensia Bengal is wont to boast of and who, in their columns in Desh and their independent works, have chronicled most of the periods that Bengal is also wont to boast of.

    While the latter has since gone into a steady decline, I’m buggered if the former have changed much in the last two and a half decades.

    As came up in a conversation a few days back, perhaps the only thing Calcutta can actually boast of today is a relatively relaxed religious environment and social values. And we thank god for small mercies.

  22. the Singur controversy is simple: it indeed is very fertile land. but that is not the point. this is traditionally a trinamool congress bastion. the share croppers form the support base of trinamool congress. the landlords are absentee landlords and therefore, they are selling for what is a fair price. it is the share croppers who get screwed and acc. to left front’s calculation, trinamool loses its support base! it is shoddy politics both ways.

  23. Arnab,
    As a non Bengali I don’t know much about the other points you have raised. However the shop keepers attitude is not something I would associate with Bengalis, I see it everywhere where there is an environment of communism/socialism or in general a very high sensitivity to workers rights and trade unions are very strong. I see it in my home state of Kerala and I see it here in Germany where staff in larger department stores or in smaller stores will simply not help you in locating anything beyond telling you the general direction in which the stuff may be or even putting items you purchased in a cover, basic customer service that you take for granted in the U.S or most Indian cities.Blame it on socialism!

  24. Regarding the example of a Bengali Saree shop and a Marwari Saree shop, all you have to do is replace Bengali with Marathi and the example still remains valid. Just visit Pune once.:-)

  25. Great post GB. One of my first experiences at IIMC was a crasher from Ramu (you must’ve heard of HIM) on useful Bengali phrases – among them being “Aajke hobe na dada”. Have listened all too often to close relatives moaning abouth Marwari prosperity and always thought why blame them for Bongs not getting off their arses…
    no sir, we need our adda and our afternoon nap – let someone else do “business” (a swear word in Bengali if one)

    True story: Went to Behala to buy some stuff. Took care to go outside of nap hours (anything between 1-6pm). Was told by yawning shopkeeper to go to the shop next door – was too much effort for him to go to the back of his store and get what I needed!

    That said, haven’t been to Cal for over 6 years. Hope the stories of change are true and Buddhada is making a difference.

  26. “However the passionate Bengali refuses to acknowledge the root cause of the success of the Marwaris and react by grumbling how all the nice houses have been taken over by those ‘rich Marwaris’.”

    at one point of time we were so jealous of marwari wealth and prosperity,that some 12-15 years back there was a ‘marwari hatao andolan’ staged at new alipore after some alteration over trivial issues…and its not that we are only envious of non-bengali affluence..time and again we hear ‘ghatis’ (original inhabitants of wb) alleging ‘bangals’ (emigrants from bangladesh) of hijacking ‘their’ riches and plum posts in workplaces…….

  27. Frankly speaking, for all the cry about intellectual strength and intelligent thinkers that Bengal politicos seem to harp about, I think Bengal’s contribution has been fairly limited to:

    Sushmita Sen (Who, I admit is the smartest amongst all models)
    Sourav Ganguly
    Rabindranath Tagore
    Satyajit Ray

    &

    Greatbong :D

    Rest…there is not much to choose from. Considering None of the above mentioned (except you!) fall into what I did call intellectual superstars, maybe its time Bengalis start realizing that they are good in other areas too.

    I think Bengal was ruined by left. Your marwari story reminds me of Mumbai and Shiv Sena’s valiant attempts to throw gujjus out of mumbai.

    S

  28. I once went in the afternoon to one of the small restaurants in Kolkata and was surprised to find that it was closed because it was lunch time(for the owner/workers).

  29. @Suyog: There are quite a few intellectual superstars beyond the ones you mentioned – among poets and writers, painters, artistes and even scientists – Saratchandra, Bankimchandra, Banaphul, Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, Mujtab Ali, Nandalal Bose, Abanindranath Tagore, Ravi Shankar, Ananda Shankar, Shukanto, Meghnad Bhattacharya, S N Bose, J C Bose… The list is much longer than that (and sorry to anyone who thinks I have left out many of the pretty obviously great intellects), but you’ll get the point.

    Yes, Tagore and Ray are the supernovas in our intellectual universe. But you think of S N Bose every time you talk of bosons, you think of Bibhutibhushan when you enjoy Ray’s Pather Pachali. You think of Nandalal when you see the vibrant colours of pat-paintings (or even the works of the Baroda school of art, which he set up). Can you imagine modern Indian dance without the mention of Ananda Shankar? Or Indian music in the 20th Century without at least a mention of Ravi Shankar?

    But Arnab is right – great art and culture is the product of prosperity. When Bengalis became effete and forgot the generation of wealth for the sake of the arts, it was inevitable that the arts would eventually decay. I’d rather that we forget the intellectual pose and try to make ourselves wealthy. Only a wealthy society can patronise the arts. And that is what we need.

  30. I have lived outside Bengal for all of my undergrad life, while working and even now as a postgraduate student. The misdirected passion you point out has been noticeably present in many people I’ve met — but there is something else that slowly makes one bleed: the fear that somehow has entered the heart of many Bengalis. The quintessential “amar sontan jeno thake dudhe bhaate” defines a lot in many people: somehow that makes them insecure and distrustful: makes them tame and cowardly. Your post was thought-provoking and so were many of the comments above, but I believe that unless the self-confidence, the fearlessness is bred in, unless we realise that we’re not sheep, all we do will be a farce and a supremely superficial effort in trying to live through and live up to the “good old days” which (as you point out) is the favoirite pastime of many.

  31. Very insightful post. I am commenting after a long time now. All the commenters above have raised excellent points. I agree with all the points you have made, GreatBong.
    I have something more to add as a non-Bengali. I agree that Bengal has contributed immmensely to the freedom struggle and produced intellectual beacons such as Rabindranath Tagore, Aurobindo Ghosh, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda and many more. But, the, other parts of India have also produced sons and daughters of great intellect and spiritual enlightenment, be it the Marathi ‘bhakti’ poets such as Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram, leaders such as Tilak and Gokhale, or the Tamil poet-saints, Avaiyyar and Thiruvalluvar, the freedom fighter, Bharatiar, the South Indian classical giants such as Thyagaraja, or the Hindi belt’s Tulsidas, Tansen and Premchand, apart from Kerala’s wonderful film makers, the playwrights of Maharashtra and Karnataka and lots more.
    As you rightly point out, by just harping on cultural superiority, the chauvinist displays not just arrogance but ignorance of the vast cultural ocean of India, stretching back to the time when probably there was no Bengali or Marathi or many other languages. So why is it that some Bengalis and a few others consider Bengal to be the cultural throne of India?
    This does NOT in any way mean that I think of Bengal’s contributions as insignificant . Bengalis have much to be proud of and so do others. Speaking of the Marwari, they have their rich history of Rana Pratap, Rani Padmini, their fabulous architecture and intricate arts, not to mention their folk music and stories, to be proud of, as much as their entrepreneurship.
    My aunt, a history professor, once remarked that my school history textbook displayed a strong ‘sons of the soil’ policy. I feel that we don’t really teach much about the history of other states in our schools. So, there is colossal ignorance about the great kings, saints, poets, literature and spiritual achievements of other parts of India.
    Coming back to the part about economic progress, your post reminded me of that memorable line from ‘Swades’ where Shah Rukh Khan says something like, “We Indians keep saying that our culture is superior and think we are therefore the greatest. Other countries have their culture, too, and they are not in any way inferior to ours.”
    Thanks for the post on Kherlanji. I have added you to my blog roll. Your post has inspired me to write something related to Indian and Western culture. I’ll be linking to this piece.

  32. But still there are people like Mamata and her cohorts who are dead eager to push Bengal back to paradoxically the darkest days of CPM rule

    I agree Mamata is a throwback and always was, but on this particular issue, does no one care for property rights? They are taking farmers’ lands now, tomorrow it could be the flat in Rajarhat that you live in.

  33. Hi GB,

    1) I don’t think there is any “anti-Bengalism ” feeling anywhere in India, there is anti-left movement for sure.

    2) After reading this post of yours( and two previous ones), now I can understand passion for Ganguly ( justified)

    3) Bengal although never run by Congress and discriminated was never a BIMARU state, Bengal never declined but Marwari(just a observation) state was in BIMARU, so no need of pessimism. Bengal was never “poor” state.

    4) Bengal cultural never declined its in fact flourishing,
    if anyone needs proof watch some bollywood, I would go little overboard and say its Bengalwood( music, actress, directors etc. )

    Every Kajal is renamed Kajol !

    5) I feel R D Burman-Panchamda is most under-rated Bengali, it seems to me he is more celebrated outside WB.

    6) Bengalis are doing quite well in trading and entrepreneurship esp. in north east India. In N.E its role reversal :-)( of sari example).

  34. In spite of the millennia spanning tradition of heterodoxy in the Bengal-Bihar region that not only brought about myriad intellectual movements (Bauddha/Sakta/Vaishnava/Nyaya/etc.) as well as mass movements (massive rise of Islamic and Marxist followings), it is only in the context of urbanization of the 19th century last half – 20th 1st half that your *Bengali passion* can be precisely defined.

    I.e, if Apu did not come to Calcutta, he would hardly be appropriate as an example of the famed passion. In particular, his coming-of-age from the shadow of orthodoxy (Varanasi/priesthood) is a nice imagery of non-innocent passion that can be defined only with respect to the harsh background of industrialization (printing press/metallic rail tracks).

    I would perhaps blame the hubris (of bhadralok in the case of Calcutta) that went on to substitute and defend the loss of pre-industrilization innocence that was the very nature of the passion which had equally influenced other parts of the industrializing world, especially in contemporary Europe and Russia.

    In other words, the *Bengali*-ness of this particular Bengali passion may be overrated and a parochial construct; at best it can be termed *Calcuttan passion.* The linguistic and other deeper/broader identities of the passionate bhadralok-samaj seem politically super-imposed.

    Nice topic. But ‘Calcuttan passion’.

  35. Nice post GB. I have always believed that capitalism and culture are mutually exclusive. But I had always thought of it in one direction – capitalism leading to destruction of refined culture (to take one example, compare the Gulzar’s and Sahir’s we produced during socialistic era when we had much less financial resources and compare them with the kind of inane lyricists of today). Your post has shown that it works the other way too – because Bengal had a highly refined culture and the people were passionate about it, they resisted the adoption of capitalism. Unfortunately, that resistance is going to end one day and Bengal too will go the capitalistic way. Yes, it might provide them better roads, fancier malls and more jobs, but atleast from culture perspective, it won’t be a good thing.

  36. Brilliant. Koto bar I have had this discussion with my non-probashi relatives. I did not know that Buddhadeb had support for his actions – I hope thats true…

  37. Great post. I wonder how staying so far away from the day to day ongoings of Bengal you still manage to be so connected. I know very little about Bengal and Bengali people and it is nice to read about how people from another part of India think. I am strong believer that capitalism and being good to society can go hand in hand, it might just be a bit tough, but not impossible. And I don’t think culture and capitalism are mutually exclusive. There is nothing more disappointing than an intelligent dude sitting and talking about how crappy the world is and how its not good enuff for him (i do that a lot, lol). But sometimes u just have to stop being a smart-ass and move ur ass. And bengals gotta do that.

  38. Nice Post. My question is isnt this expected? You take any society which starts believing in a set of values at a given period of time. Once that period is over and people who had the strength to give it direction disappear it tends to feed on itself, gathering around it all the wrong ideas, ultimately ending up in a mess. If you have a set motivated people who really dont have any direction then this is what happens. The late 19 century and early 20 century produced many people who were extraordinary and more importantly had direction. With India gaining independence, I think the direction simply shifted towards communism.

    Unrelatedly I think a lot of bengalis move out of the state(I am not aware of the relative figures). This is I guess the first reminder that there is something seriously wrong.

  39. Pingback: Anonymous

  40. Bengalis in general have a perception that given a ‘chance’ they can turn the world upside down by the sheer virtue of their inherent talent and level of intellect. And it is because of this mentality that they keep waiting for that ‘chance’ to come and knock on their door.

    That there are talks that Sourav Ganguly is the last bengali icon may not be appropriate as it tries to predict the unpredictable but it should really be an eye-opener for us bongs.

    That the place that had given the country icons as great as Swami Vivekananda, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Rabindranath Tagore, Jagadish Chandra Bose, Satyendranath Bose and so on is not able to produce a hero is a matter of great concern, and well, shame as well.

    But, is it really so that we don’t have icons in the present era? They may not be of the same stature and charisma as the above ones but there indeed are people who can be called icons.

    Apart from Pandit Ravi Shankar (the great musician, not the spiritual guru), his daughter Anoushka Shankar, Aparna Sen etc there are bengalis, who don’t reside in bengal but have made it big in their respective fields like Amartya Sen (Nobel winner), Amar Gopal Bose (Founder, Bose Corporation), Purnendu Chatterjee (CEO, TCG), Subroto Roy (Sahara Group), Jhumpa Lahiri , Amitav Ghosh, Upamanyu Chatterjee (Authors) and so on in the present era itself.

    Have a look at this list please.

    But then again, if we look at it and do a comparison with other parts of India from a neutral viewpoint, we clearly see that regions that didn’t have as big icons in the past as Bengal had produced have actually gone well ahead in time and post-independence, have created great stalwarts, mainly as entrepreneurs who lead big and globally respected organizations.
    In these areas Bengal has slowed down drastically , mainly because the laid-back attictude and what can be termed as a ‘superiority complex’ of the Bengalis in general.

    I personally believe that though there was a decline in Bengal’s production of ‘icons’ considerably in the post Satyendranath Bose era, thanks mainly to the ‘RED’ government, it never stopped completely.
    And to predict that After Sourav ganguly there won’t be another bong icon is not justified at all. But at the same time, there has to be loads and loads of support for Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in bringing the old glory back. This gentleman knows what needs to be done but just doesn’t have the support. There are no able alternative for this ‘RED” Government at the moment so we have to cope with the ‘RED’ part but have to back Buddha-babu all the time.

    All in all, a brilliant post, Arnab.
    A sore chord touched upon very gently in a very much thought-provoking yet diplomatic way.

    And, “If Apu symbolized the romantic, impulsive and intellectual Bengali, it is in many ways Mamata Banerjee who represents the twisted bastardization of the ideals of Apu in today’s Bengal.” …how appropriate :)

  41. i so totally agree with @Lotus eyes(and of course shahrukh khan) and the dialogues from swades….

    just because you are ignorant of some other culture you should not assume superiority over them… every place/country has its own culture and its own luminaries…

  42. @ Suyog :

    “Frankly speaking, for all the cry about intellectual strength and intelligent thinkers that Bengal politicos seem to harp about, I think Bengal’s contribution has been fairly limited to:

    Sushmita Sen (Who, I admit is the smartest amongst all models)
    Sourav Ganguly
    Rabindranath Tagore
    Satyajit Ray

    &

    Greatbong :D

    Rest…there is not much to choose from.”

    For your kind information, here is something especially for people like you if you really want something to choose from, (although I personally believe you haven’t even heard most of these names….well, may be my mistake…..that might just be too much to expect from people like you who speak about something without any knowledge about it.)

    “None of the above mentioned (except you!) fall into what I did call intellectual superstars”
    ….as if they wait for you to honour them with the “intellectual superstar-dom” by calling them “intellectual superstars”.

  43. Hi Greatbong,
    the article is bang on target. Being a non bengali I can not agree more to some of your points. Being passionate has destroyed some of respect all other indians hold for bengali people. The problem is that everytime peolple connect issues to culture be it economic or political. And our useless politicians are more than happy to pamper this passion as it yield them votes without actually doing anything. Also the case is similar is almost every part of India be it Karnataka for Rajkumar issue, be it Pune or Chennai or Gujrat. The real unfortunate thing we indians never think ourselvs as forst humans who need development and then indians. We are always Marathi, bengali, Kannadinga, Gujarati first then we are eith MArxist, Leftist, Hiduntva vadi, Muslim wadi, Samajwadi. The country and human development never figures in dream of or politicians (with few respectable exceptions)!

  44. @dEbOLiN: That list is pretty comprehensive… was thinking of providing something like that myself in reply to Suyog (that passion again). However, some prominent people (like Sri Aurobindo, Chittaranjan Das, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and many others) are conspicuous by their absence and some non-Bengalis have been included as well (like Rohan Gavaskar)

  45. Dear Arnab,
    I am a reader of your blog, regarding this topic I just want to add one very important point that Bengali’s lacks the Execution capacities.
    Look at L.M. Mittal he studied in St Xavier’s College and IISWBM (Both under Calcutta University) look how he has utilized his knowledge has built up an empire from the so called poor Calcutta University.
    Look at Late A.V. Birla (From St Xavier’s College, Calcutta)
    Among all the Birlas he was the smartest.
    Look at Vijay Mallya his father Late Vittal From St Xavier’s and Presidency respectively under Calcutta University.
    We have a habit of saying Calcutta University is not up to the mark and the standard is very poor but if you see all the above cases it’s fantastic.
    There are lots and lots of Cases who are Non Bengalis ( Marwairs)got same education from Bengal and Calcutta University and have become successful in their own fields.
    Bengalis have academic excellence but very poor executional excellence;;;;
    May be Knowing Doing Gap.
    Hope they will be do the GAP analysis, and come up very fast.
    Don’t worry we will fight back, things are changing.

    Good Luck.

  46. Though your basic point is different, the Singur issue has been touched upon by you and several other commentators. So, I am adding a few observations on Singur:

    It is perfectly legal for a government to take over private property for greater public good, in all countries. However, adequate compensation should be paid, specially when the government is not giving the owners a choice to sell or not, unlike in a private transaction. Whatever reports I have seen about the method of estimating the quantum of compensation, I have to say that the return (say, from keeping the amount in a post office Monthly Income Scheme @8% per annum) on the amount of compensation money would be substantially more than the annual profit that the owners of an acre of land at Singur would make in an average year. Also remember that the return from agriculture is uncertain (some farmers have to commit suicides because of crop failure) while the return from post office fixed deposit is totally risk free and certain (except if the interest rate changes in future, say after 6 years, when the maturity value would have to be reinvested).

    However, there is another class of losers. They are landless labourers who did not own the land but worked there as wage earners. They would lose their man days and wage income when the land is diverted from agriculture. Most of these people can not and will not be absorbed in the car manufacturing factory. They do not have the skills. It is not easy to train them either. At best, they can be provided priority as labourers in the construction work that will take place or in setting up small shops etc (but that needs capital or bank finance) in the township that will develop. These people may turn out to be the real losers, not the owners of land. Of course, the direct and indirect job gains from the Tata factory accruing to other people would be much more, by any kind of estimate. That’s how economic development takes place and is considered justified when the gains of the gainers are more than the loss of the losers.

    Some are asking (like Mamata): why the W.B. govt did not ask Tatas to set up the factory in a backward district like Purulia or on land which produces a single crop.
    First, Tatas themselves chose Singur over other alternatives suggested by the WB govt. Primarily because of the locational advantage. Singur is right on the Kolkata-Durgapur expressway. Cars are bulky but fancy products (unlike steel rods or cement) which need to be transported at low costs and in spotless condition to the markets. You can not assure that if cars are manufactured in Purulia and then have to be transported along narrow bumpy Maoist infested roads to Kolkata. Moreover, Tatas can not undertake the costs of new expressway construction. That would make their products lose cost competitiveness in a highly competitive automobile market with very low margins. Finally, if W.B. govt did not give Tatas their chosen location, they had other options. Many other states would bend backwards to invite the Tatas by offering the location of their choice. So, Buddhababu had no other option, if they really wanted the Tata factory (which even Mamata wants) for West Bengal’s good.

    On multi-crop versus single crop, the issue is of two types. Regarding compensation, obviously, the compensation for an acre of multi-crop land would be more than that for single-crop land. So, the farmers would not lose, provided compensation amount is calculated properly. The other issue is loss of agricultural production from the national point of view. Clearly, the national loss is more if the factory is on multi-crop land. But, if the factory would not have taken place otherwise or the cost of additional resources needed (for development of access roads or power lines etc) for setting up the factory in another location had been more than the value of additional crop lost when it is on multi-crop land, then it is socially worthwhile to have the factory on multi-crop land.
    Love,
    Baba

  47. Debolin thats a good list. But i wonder why one would refer to that list to feel good about Bengal. I see a lot of young achievers from that list who achieved it outside Bengal. isn’t that a worrying sign. Wudn’t u look at that list (focusing on achievers of the last 30-20 years) and go “crap! we bengalis have go it, but why can’t we make it in bengal”
    How much credit can you give the state of West Bengal for what Bipasha Basu or Prannoy Roy or Sharmila tagore or Mithun or kajol or Amar Bose of Bose speakers or Jawed Kaim of you tube achieved?
    And isn’t this what Greatbong talks about in this post? That “we got it but why can’t we do it in WB?” (or maybe i am just not getting the point of the post)

    How many of the Bengali readers here are people who were in WB, are in WB and can say they have achieved something in WB?

    I from Mumbai and my dad is from kerala and all his bros and sisters achieved whatever they did outside kerala. Kerala’s situation is very much like Bengal’s. U wud have all received this forward joke “the wonly place where a malayali works hard is outside kerala”.

    When a society (or individual) thinks prosperity has ought to come to it (or them), that it is their jagir, they invite doom. And when they realize they arent propsering they starting blaming everything else, feeling jealous, imposing restrictions to other’s propserity and being a pain in the arse like Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.

  48. pls excuse my typos and grammatical blunders in the previous post. and sorry for taking up a post asking for apology.

  49. Great analysis. I think it should be printed in some leading newspaper. This way those people, who don’t use internet, would be able to read it as well. Why don’t you mail it to Time of India (mytimesmyvoice@timesgroup.com) or to The Telegraph (ttedit@abpmail.com)? You can think of sending this article to some leading Bengali dailies also. There are many Bengalis who hate to read English dailies due to some reason or other. For them this article should be published in Bengali.

  50. @ Joy Forever :

    Yes I know the list is not comprehensive and there are a few mistakes and ommissions….but I think it’s sufficient to get presented before bloggers like Suyog. It’s just that I didn’t get a more accurate list on the net and didn’t have the time to prepare one myself.

    @ Sriram Venkitachalam :

    Yes Sir. I completely agree with you when you say Bengalis have achieved very little from or inside Bengal in the recent past. In fact, in my comment I have mentioned this too with special mention to the ‘RED’ Government.
    Somehow you might have missed it or may be you just went through the list and nothing else.
    If you go through the paragraphs 1,2,3,7 & 8 in my comment, you’ll see I hold more or less the same view as yours.

  51. @debolin
    in fact i liked ur post “Bengalis in general have a” a lot. made a lot of sense to me. when i wrote abt u posting the list in response to suyog i didn’t relate u to that previous post and it wasn’t in my short term flash memory.
    I hope I reiterated something worth reiterating.

  52. @ Everyone :

    Sorry just noticed this sentence in my comment may have created some confusion:

    “I personally believe that though there was a decline in Bengal’s production of ‘icons’ considerably in the post Satyendranath Bose era, thanks mainly to the ‘RED’ government, it never stopped completely.”

    What I actually wanted to say was :

    “I personally believe that Bengal’s production of ‘icons’ never really stopped completely although there was a considerable decline (for the decline,thanks mainly to the ‘RED’ government)in this in the post Satyendranath Bose era .”

    Sorry Arnab, for eating up more space. :)

  53. @ Sriram Venkitachalam :

    I provided the list specifically for Suyog because all he knows about Bengal and Bengalis is “Frankly speaking, for all the cry about intellectual strength and intelligent thinkers that Bengal politicos seem to harp about, I think Bengal’s contribution has been fairly limited to:

    Sushmita Sen (Who, I admit is the smartest amongst all models)
    Sourav Ganguly
    Rabindranath Tagore
    Satyajit Ray & Greatbong

    Rest…there is not much to choose from.”

    I thought he needed to be told about Vivekananda, Netaji, J.C.Bose and so on. That’s it.

  54. Yep…Moi also thinks that a detailed post in the Singur controversy would be good. Didn’t find many posts regarding that in the desi blogs.
    And yes, the comment by Mr. Alok Ray was really good.

    Cheers,
    HP

  55. GB,
    hav been a big fan of all ur posts and all… and am also a party to believe buddha has been leading the state in a right direction… But being a Bengali, don’t you feel the forceful takeover of farmlands in Singur making hundreds of farmers homeless and the atrocities carried on the helpless farmers and their wives by armed policemen is a shame to bengal as a state and society as a whole? Also I believe that you understand the describing of the opposition leader’s politics as bastardization is a below the belt term to say the least. Don’t you think the uninterrupted rule of a single government,having ailing, old ministers hanging on to their chairs just for power’s sake, moving towards half a century is catastophe enough for any state?

  56. All the famous bengalis kayasthas

    I shine in reflected glory ;-).

    PS GB, I hope this comment was not casteist, if you feel it was please delete the comment.

  57. @Debolin:

    “I thought he needed to be told about Vivekananda, Netaji, J.C.Bose and so on. That’s it.”

    I usually dont eat anybody else’s comment space for my debates, but I did like to say something quick. Do you think I dont know about all of ‘em? :-). Sorry. I do know some. The fact that I didnt include them in my list doesnt mean I have not heard of them, but strictly, imho (read in my opinion only, you may not agree, the world may not agree, heck even god may not agree!), but I don’t think of them highly :D, hence the non-inclusion. Why? Is another post all together.

    Also, your comment strictly demonstrates to me why Bengalis feel there is an anti-bengal feeling; I guess it comes out of the fact that many Indians may not share the same view or respect towards Bengal as bengalis would want to :D – and Bengalis may feel that’s not right. Heck, even I dont feel right that outside of Karnataka nobody has heard of S. L. Bhrayppa :D. But thats fine by me.

    S

  58. Regarding Alok Ray’s reply on eminent domain:

    At least in the US, the principle courts follow is this: using eminent domain to appropriate land is ok if it is a government project, and that too really sparingly. Using it for private industrial (or otherwise) projects is a strict no no. It leads to crony capitalism, the like of which you see in Russia today, and which we are hurtling headlong in WB.

    More pragmatically, the government which has, by its misguided policies over the last 25 years reduced West Bengal to shambles can scarcely be considered competent to decide whether a particular industrial project is good for the state.

    So in summary, eminent domain is a especially bad policy in this case.

  59. lover wrote:

    GB,
    hav been a big fan of all ur posts and all… and am also a party to believe buddha has been leading the state in a right direction… But being a Bengali, don’t you feel the forceful takeover of farmlands in Singur making hundreds of farmers homeless and the atrocities carried on the helpless farmers and their wives by armed policemen is a shame to bengal as a state and society as a whole?

    Everyone read the above gem again and again. This post summarizes everything that is wrong with us Bengalis.

    Just substitute Singur with Vietnam, Bolivia, Burkina Faso etc. etc. and you’ll get the picture.

    Mr./Ms. lover’s comment as I can see, has appeared after Dr. Alok Ray’s post, who is definitely an authority on subject. But, our knight in shining armour has failed to take notice or maybe found it at odds with his/her ideology.

    It has been the same misguided bunch as Mr./Ms. lover’s that camped in front of the Kalaikunda Air Base. It was due to him/her types Bengalis like us were laughing stock in workplace and social gatherings.

  60. V Runstedt,

    arguing by authority and ad hominems , are we?

    Seriously, the issue is one of freedom. The farmers need to be free to sell the land or not sell the land. The Tata’s think that Singur has the right locational advantages; well, they need to pay for it to the people who currently own the land. It’s not Buddhu-babu’s to give away.

    Without freedom, any prosperity you see is only going to be short lived. Also, consider this. These laws are effing draconian, they can be used to take away your land if the local developer thinks you sit on prime land and is in good terms with the cpim. (There are many such developers, courtesy the cpim policy of distributing real-estate development licences to party all-and-sundry in the nineties). People complain about TADA/POTA. Consider this, TADA and POTA need to be passed/approved by some legislative body to be applicable to any particular region. The eminent domain laws are already applicable all over India; no further legislative approval necessary. There is far less consciousness of the threat they pose to liberty, and judges, by and large, are leery of contesting government claims of public good.

    The calculation Alok Ray provided about just compensation is one sided. It does not take into account the expected revenues Tata’s would get if they choose this site over some other; nor does it take into account expected tax revenues the state government stands to gain, not to mention bribes and the like government/party functionaries would make from increased economic activity.

    His error is in not thinking of the land as an investment, which has now increased in value. The logical equivalent would be if someone forces you to sell your stock certificate of some hot company at the price of the paper it is printed on times a factor of 2 and argue that that is a just compensation, because what money are you getting out of it now.

    capische?

  61. Gaurav

    I’m not talking about the Singur issue. Please read my post again.

    It is the misplaced idealism and activism of some that is being pointed out (hence the Kalaikunda example).

    About…Singur. What do you propose?

    Bengal is not only densely populated, but is unfortunately blessed with extremely fertile land. Unfortunate, because such a combination makes for a good agricultural economy. Such lands are too good to be consigned to steel and concrete jungles.

    But then can we afford to do away with industry?

    If alternative site is suggested, will it not involve another set of oustees/victims?

    Will any private enterprise agree to invest, if you offer some piece of land in some remote location without proper road/rail connectivity?

    On the other hand if the govt. of WB ready to revise compensation what is the problem?

    Lest we miss the larger picture, every public institution we have for common good is built upon some hapless farmers land at one point of time or another.

  62. Passionate but passé – this is what I feel reading GB’s article and most responses. Very few speak about Bengal’s past today (even in Bengal), not because it was anything trivial, but because people have learnt the past is not going to produce any more milk. For that matter, how many of us are aware that the could-be Nobel winner, Acharya Jagadish Bose’s birthday have just gone by (Nov 30)?

    Culture doesn’t happen in vacuum, and the reason why some of us still reminisce the golden times of Bengal is very simply because there isn’t just any of the class Bengal once had in multiple spheres anywhere in India even today. Take it or leave it, your choice. But for anyone who has read the history, it won’t take longer than few minutes to cut through whatever one has to say on the contrary. That’s the reality.

    The other reality is Bengal is not what it should have been. There have been serious lapses, and the price paid has been too heavy. Things are now improving and who knows the day is not far off when the doomsayers will perforce rush in, in order not to loose on cashing in on opportunities!

  63. ‘Bastardization’ is an important word here: illegitimate attempts to inherit glorious legacies of the past greats. It is far too common that a Calcuttan of mediocre merit and morals, who is hardly fit to hold a candle to the righteousness of a Vidyasagar or the sagacity of JC Bose, claims with impunity to be allowed to bask in “reflected glories” in exchange of his facetious recitation of Tagore or quotation of Aurobindo.

    Also important is underscoring the purely urban nature of this insecurity; clearly, a pre-industrialization farm-worker in Bengal would not need to differentiate himself from his Bihari counterpart. It is only upon the rise of 19th c. Calcutta as a commerce capital and the resulting influx of merchants (Marwari/Sindhi/Parsi/Jew/etc.) and labourers (from all around) that the anxiety over ‘Bengali’ identity, fueling an era of nationalist revival, really surfaces. The ‘passion’ may be viewed as assertion against such anxiety.

    Otherwise, is there anything core *Bengali* about this passion? Based on urban artifacts like Rasogolla (Potuguese cottage cheese) and Football (British) and Fellini (Italian), much of this passion excludes the majority of fellow Bengalis (rural Muslims, tribal/coastal/hilly peoples). The dead/dying folk traditions (music, mangal-kavyas,…) which really are the warehouses of Bengal’s past do hardly evoke a Calcuttan’s so-called “Bengali” passion…

  64. @Abhilasha: Thank you

    @Justin: I know. The same policies it opposes at the Center the CPM supports aggressively at the state. That’s leftist politics for you.

    @Vaibhav: Thank you

    @AwayFromHome: Medha Patkar represents a cabal of luddites who oppose all kinds of development.

    @Gaurav: As Rohan pointed out, it was targeted against a few specific states.

    @Rohan: Thank you

    @Sudheer: Indeed.

    @RealityCheck: Interesting observation.

    @Joy Forever: I would think that the non-XXX (replace XXX with Tamil, Marathi..) is pretty common…no? And with respect to technology, there was a huge strike in ISI when computers (the ones that occupied whole rooms) were first brought in.

    @Avadhoot: Incidentally, I do not smoke. And mujhe bhi dhanda karna naheen aata.

    @Kabaddi Kabaddi: I would like to believe so too…but the kind of crowd behaviour one sees at the Eden and on the streets and during political rallies, it becomes kind of convince myself that we are in any way more civilized than any other city in India.

    @JAP: Trust me, I have no desire to give Suhel Seth any more publicity than he can manage on his own. Except that in this case he echoes the word on the street perfectly.

    @//slash\: Thank you.

    @Yourfan: I doubt whether JB would work in Gujrat. In Gujrat, I do not see his philosophy of exalted joblessness working on the business-minded local population. I also doubt if Modi would work in Bengal. My point is that though it is undeniable that JB played upto our ‘lazy basic instinct’ , it worked primarily because it appealed to a common cultural behavioural trait.

    @VonRunstedt: I have some anti-bengali commenters here before asking about how many military men Bengal has produced….a legacy of this urban myth of Bengalis being “soft”. Hardly so.

    @ Raj: They boo-ed a 10 wicket loss by India and our supremely superior batsmen struggling against pace. As the paying public, they have the right to boo.

    @Cheetos: I fail to see how Naxalbari was a cause rather than the symptom (the loony idealism) of the Bengali decline. There were many smart men who made it through Naxalbari and I just don’t agree with your point.

    @ Anirban: Yes I too think that there has been positive improvement (and I am not talking about Dada). But then Sindur happens, the IT industry is pissed and I slap my forehead—how long will we Bengalis keep pulling ourselves back?

    @Shan:

    We tend to support the governments in each case because we instinctively are on the side of “progress”, and I am guilty of that myself, but there are times when I think, what my reactions would be if the government decides that my house was perfect for a new road leading to the SEEPZ (Software Park) and therefore should be demolished for “progress” of the country

    The land owners have agreed. The problem is with the landless labourers on the land. My question is if my company was taken over by say Microsoft and the company reorganized the workforce and fired me then I would be in the same position as these landless labourers. Their “company” has just been bought out and re-organized.

    @Priya: Psst…enjoyed all those Big bandh cricket tournaments…

    @Rimi: Valid. However how do you explain Sunil Gangopadhyay’s jingoistic “Kolkata is for Bengalis” —-for a generation, he was a far bigger intellectual than most others.

    @BongoPondit: Thank you.

    @OS: Thanks. Changed.

    @XYZ: Again share croppers are employees. If the employers (land owners) sell, there is little that can be done for their protection in a capitalist system.

    @Manjula: Hmm.

    @Nilesh: Perhaps.

    @Drivethrucover: Indeed… “business” is most often a swear word.

    @Arnab: And we scoff at the Shiv Sainiks (mainly because they are anti-bengali) and their parochialism.

    @ Suyog: Guess there has been much said about the list so will desist. The last name of course I could not agree with you more.

    @Mr. V: Go to Barcelona. Same thing.

    @Sudipta: Tame and cowardly? How is the Bengali cowardly in comparison to other Indians?

    @ Lotus Eyes: Indeed so.

    @Corporate Serf: They are not taking farmers land. They are buying them at more than reasonable rates. Which is why the owners are selling them.

    @ Sam: No anti-Bengali-ism anywhere? Sorry I just cannot help but snigger–having experienced it so many times in mixed company.

    @ S.Pyne: You mean to say that there is no “Bring back Dada” outside Calcutta? There is no “Everyone hates Bengal” in the suburbs? The fact that the cultural hubris originates from urban achievements rather than rural ones (Lalon Fakir) is orthogonal to the issue—both the mufussil and the urban Bengali bask in the same reflected glory.

    @Giri: Thank you.

    @Mohan: And I hope it goes the capitalist way. I do not think that culture and capitalism have to be inversely related. The problem has not been Bengal’s “cultural” inclinations but the way this has been made an excuse to avoid work.
    @Clairovyant: Thanks

    @ SD: Thanks

    @Sriram: Agree.

    @TraceBullet: That is because industry vanished under Jyoti Babu’s misrule.

    @deBoLiN: Yes that last Bong icon is rubbish….a logical impossibility in fact. But then what can you expect from television news?

    @Varuag: Hmm

    @Anshul: Thank you

    @Vishal: True.

    @Debashis: Are things changing? A few isolated examples of success do not count for much.

    @Baba: Very true.

    @Koushik: Thank you. However my experience with ABP has never been great with respect to being a contributor…too many rejects.

    @Rahul: Baba has said all I had to say.

    @HP: Ditto from last comment reply.

    @Lover: No forceful takeover. Bought out. Its the landless labourers who are causing the violence—people who had no legal stake in the land. And no it is not below the belt to describe Mamata with her fake PhD degree and her love of theatrics to be a bastardization of the ideals of the intellectual Bangali.

    @ Gaurav: A Kayastha myself..

    @Corporate Serf: Ahem. In US, the government acquires the land and then hands it over to private developers…exactly the same thing that has happened here. Unlike what you like to believe (even when the facts are against you) the land has been “bought”. Not taken over.

    The calculation Alok Ray provided about just compensation is one sided. It does not take into account the expected revenues Tata’s would get if they choose this site over some other; nor does it take into account expected tax revenues the state government stands to gain, not to mention bribes and the like government/party functionaries would make from increased economic activity.

    The Tatas want this land because of its locational advantage. They will provide jobs. They will provide tax revenue. The farmers want to sell. The farm workers dont want to lose their jobs. Tough luck. If factory workers can get laid off and software engineers so can they.

    @Parthab:

    Very few speak about Bengal’s past today (even in Bengal), not because it was anything trivial, but because people have learnt the past is not going to produce any more milk.

    More sniggers on my part. Really…what can I say.

    @S.Pyne: While I concur with some of your comment, I feel that this faux Bengali pride is not purely an urban construct. I mean using “culture” as a means to skip work or the lack of pragmatism in letting a strike continue for years is prevalent everywhere in Bengal.
    @

  65. Nice article on rediff about the Singur issue:-

    http://ia.rediff.com/money/2006/dec/06tata.htm?q=bp&file=.htm

    ” it is heartening to learn that Mr Bhattacharjee is willing to reconsider the compensation issue and examine if those who were directly dependent on the land being acquired and did not get any money can get some compensation” – Buddhababu Lal Salaam. Some very pertinent points have been raised including Tatas apparently asking too much land for the plant.

  66. “His error is in not thinking of the land as an investment, which has now increased in value. The logical equivalent would be if someone forces you to sell your stock certificate of some hot company at the price of the paper it is printed on times a factor of 2 and argue that that is a just compensation, because what money are you getting out of it now.”

    @corporate serf:

    This is not entirely correct, what you are advocating is a reward for ‘free-riding’ (or speculation if you will). The farmers are demanding a higher price for their land on a notional premise that Tatas are going to make a profit in the future and consequently there are entitled to a slice of it today – without taking the attendent risks.

    A more logical equivalence is – like the government making you pay your annual property tax at current prices for a piece of property bought by your great-grandfather in say Alipore.

  67. GB, in response to Shan you say
    “The land owners have agreed. The problem is with the landless labourers on the land. My question is if my company was taken over by say Microsoft and the company reorganized the workforce and fired me then I would be in the same position as these landless labourers. Their “company” has just been bought out and re-organized.”

    But is the state of the landless laborers different from corporate world employees who lose jobs? Do they have PF and retirement fund and the likes? I really doubt.

    But if as per that Business Standard article posted by Debu, the WB CM reconsiders compensation for the workers all this would make a lot of sense. And further, if they can find a way manual labor jobs in the factory that would be even better. Its not impossible.

  68. @GB
    Nice post. Did my email trigger it ? I pretty much agree with you on the points you want to make. However, I feel you have missed out the influence of the extreme left on the politics-society-economy of Bengal. Remember, the whole police action in Singur was triggered by a protest engineered by the Maoists in the region. And their primary aim is to provoke the police into action. It’s important to remember that although the extreme left is small in number and fragmented across millions of organizations they are quite a menace. Simply because they are politically active, unlike the moderate silent majority.

    As for Mamata-di, not many really care about her (as evident from the recent poll debacle), but bhadrolok of bengal can do little about the rampant hooliganism and vandalism perpetrated by her. The Singur issue has re-affirmed Bengal’s position as a state which is hostile to investment.

  69. Wonderful.

    Many years back, while a rookie journalist, I had gone to interview the head of one of Calcutta’s more famous companies. The man was a known naxalite during his college days. My obvious question to him was on that: why the contradtion – a naxalite during college days and now the head of a leading MNC.

    He retort was like this:
    “Look here, youn man, if in your 20s you are not a Leftist then something is wrong with your heart. If in your 30s, you are still a Leftist, then something is seriously wrong with your head.” It was awesome, I thought … and I remember his lines to this day.

    The man today, now retired, helps Buddhadeb babu invite capital into the state. May be he’s one of those who’s helped drill some sense into our Marxists.

  70. @Mohan – quite irrelevant as to who might have said these first ….

    but it’s relevant to the context here – that the Leftists today are doing just the opposite of what used to do in Bengal 20-25 years back …

    may be some common sense has finally prevailed :)

    btw, i did not try to imply that there is something wrong in remaining a Leftist if you are in your 30s … it’s more an issue of personal choice … just as I am not in the wrong for being the ultimate consumerist/capitalist, and I am in my 30s too ;)

  71. Arnab

    Since we are talking about the prevalent Bhadralok culture, I’ll take the liberty to post a news report.

    I believe the news report deserves a post of its own from you.

    Here it goes.

    Four day old new born dies, while cops interrogate mother

    So, a women gives birth out of wedlock, so she needs to be rounded up and interrogated? Why IPC section specifies that?

    A new born dies of cold and hunger in a police station…This is from an state of enlightened Bhadraloks.

  72. A very well written and thought provoking blog.I resided in calcutta for 4 years and I really fell in love with it. I watched the city through the eyes of a non-bengali, but then became a part of it.The saree shop incident reminded me of a particular misti shop in salt lake.It was run by a bhadralok (age about 50 yrs) and there we used to get very good “Doi”. But going to the shop was always a nerve wrecking experiance, because if he happens to be writing something on his “khata” he will NOT look up even if you are standing there for 15 minutes! And if you happen to make a small noise (like a cough or a sneeze) he will give you a glare which will remind you of your school principal!!This happened most of the times because he was usually alone in his shop! But then there was this small grocery shop where you kind of get everything, and the guy at the counter is always with a smile.Of course he had competition from the nearby Arambagh food mart( which incidentally had very bad service — printing the price list in the computer takes 2 people plus 10 mins!)
    Then there were the frequent bandhs, for which the office car would pick us up at 4am ( since most of the bandhs are from 5 to 5) in the morning!Imagine going to office to sleep again!!

    Recently I again had a chance of visiting calcutta for a one night stop-over.From the airport to park street we took a long detour( the new bypass which starts from the vip road in front of haldiram pure foods).On that road we were surprised to see acres upon acres of land being converted into concrete jungle.It did cross our mind as to whom that land belonged to…. was it waste land or farm land, etc.If I am correct there used to be huge vegetable farms on both sides of the EM bypass. Wonder if they would remain or not..
    All said and done, Kolkata is a city with a heart.Its a city where shopkeepers,auto drivers, bus conductors etc. will address you as dada, didi, kaki, dadu etc.And about hating non-bengalis, the outsider should also try to say the basic sentences in bengali.I have seen that many outsiders ( from the north and the west) scoff at the language, and take it upon themselves to not to speak even a single word in bengali

  73. @ Mr.VonRunstedt or whatever your name is(definitely not a Bengali one), you have underlined the phrase ‘being a Bengali’ and have written that it is what is particularly wrong with the clan, but let me tell you the Telugus or Kannadigas down south or the Punjabis or Biharis in the north and for that matter any race within the precints of the Indian boundary, are much more prowd of their race than Bengalis can ever dream of. I don’t know how you can feel ashamed to be a Bengali rather than being prowd of being one? Also I regret the fact that you have referred to Bengalis as a laughing stock, which I feel is as unfortunate as the ruling of a single fascist government over the state for more than three decades. You should remember that the whole of India looks up to Bengalis with awe even today, although secretly, and the Bengali-bashing they carry out in public is a weak manifestation of their inner fear of Bengal’s dominance over them in the national scene once again. There’s no denying the fact that Bengalis have a sharper intelluctual edge than any of their Indian counterparts, and each and every Indian still acknowledges this fact, atleast to himself.
    So Mr.Run, I would hope instead of running about finding the actual fault of Bengalis in my blog, I’d be highly obliged if you would come out of your air-conditioned glass house once in a while and look out for it, which is precisely the constant influx of people from other states eating in on the meagre piece of bread the government has been succesful in providing us.
    Before ending, I’d like to thank Gaurav and Corporate Serf for your comments and would like GB to answer the question which I had put forward in my last piece i.e. Don’t you think the uninterrupted rule of a single government,having ailing, old ministers hanging on to their chairs just for power’s sake, moving towards half a century is catastophe enough for any state?

  74. @Lover
    As a non bengali by tongue, and as someone who lives outside bengal I’d like to tell you that I am not in awe of Bengalis and don’t fear their supremacy over me.

  75. @lover
    “You should remember that the whole of India looks up to Bengalis with awe even today, although secretly, and the Bengali-bashing they carry out in public is a weak manifestation of their inner fear of Bengal’s dominance over them in the national scene once again.”

    With statements like that no wonder Bengalis are becoming a laughing stock. And btw, its “proud” and not “prowd”

  76. Two comments, one to GB, one to Arnie

    To GB:

    @Corporate Serf: Ahem. In US, the government acquires the land and then hands it over to private developers…exactly the same thing that has happened here. Unlike what you like to believe (even when the facts are against you) the land has been “bought”. Not taken over.

    The Tatas want this land because of its locational advantage. They will provide jobs. They will provide tax revenue. The farmers want to sell. The farm workers dont want to lose their jobs. Tough luck. If factory workers can get laid off and software engineers so can

    I did not realize it was an outright sale; i.e. the farmers had an option not to sell. If the farmers did not have an option it cannot be called a sale, as the transaction was not voluntary. All the newspapers I read led me to believe that it was an eminent domain appropriation (which includes an ill defined “just compensation”) If it was indeed voluntary, then I would fully support the action and would confirm my opinion of Mamata as a general trouble-maker, but that proviso needs to be made first.

    As far as eminent domain in the US, this is something that came into the news a few years ago. It is not the case that the government as a general rule can and does appropriate land and hands it to private development. The closest parallel to the Singur case would be a locality taking over a few buildings and handing them over for the construction of, say malls. Same as in India, you say? Not so fast. First these cannot be done by administrative order, there has to be a legislative body involved to take that decision. Second, most properties can’t be taken over, it has to be condemned, i.e. in unlivable condition and with no business actually occuring on the premises. Singur, if it has been acquired by eminent domain as I though it was, would fail in this very test. Do not assume that these tests are fudged. The cases do go to court and the governtment has a very strong probability of losing. Private property is taken seriously in the US, which is probably why people are prosperous.

    To Arnie:
    My reply to you is beside the point if what GB says is correct and the transaction is a voluntary sale, with that proviso, let me proceed:


    This is not entirely correct, what you are advocating is a reward for ‘free-riding’ (or speculation if you will). The farmers are demanding a higher price for their land on a notional premise that Tatas are going to make a profit in the future and consequently there are entitled to a slice of it today – without taking the attendent risks.

    Speculation is a perfectly valid and legal enterprise. Where is the free riding here? It is the farmer’s land, If they think the Tatas (or someone else) would be willing to pay for the locational advantage it is perfectly valid for them to demand a higher price. If they are wrong they will lose out. As far as whether this is fair to the Tatas or not, is it not for them to decide? Tatas are big boys, they can take care of themselves.


    A more logical equivalence is – like the government making you pay your annual property tax at current prices for a piece of property bought by your great-grandfather in say Alipore.

    I don’t see it at all. I don’t know how property taxes are assessed in India. In the locality of the US I currently reside in, property taxes are assessed according to what is called a nominal value of the land and the building on it. This is supposed to take out market fluctuations and is usually much smaller than what you would pay to buy it. The assessed value has really no connection with the market value. The market value is solely what someone else would pay for the property, nothing more, nothing less. The connection you draw grows even more tenuous when you consider that ultimately it is a transaction between two private parties: Tatas and the farmer. The government ideally should not enter into it at all.

    (The government enters into such deals because land cannot be freely traded, as with most other property beyond a certain value)

    Let me give you a better example of what is going on. Say you own a house where you don’t reside in, say you bought it in Rajarhat in 1994, correctly predicting that the prices there will reach sky high. Now you want to hold on to it for the price to rise. In the mean time, to get some extra profit plus to cover the cost of maintainance you lease it out for limited times to a variety of people, but don’t make a lot of money from it. Come 2005, the prices have increased, flats are coming up, your tenants’ leases have expired, and you want to sell. However the government steps in acquires the property, not to build the fly-over, but to build high-rises. The “just compensation” they determine is the total rent income for the last five years multiplied by 2. This is totally inadequate in that it does not compensate you for the locational premium the plot has acquired over the years (which you foresaw would happen).

    This is the position you are supporting.

    Not respecting property rights has long term repurcussions as should be clear from our country’s plight, but clearly the lesson has not sunk in. In the fifties Nehru wanted to build “new temples” from the commanding heights (by forbidding anyone else without his highness’s permission), now you want to force farmers to “sell” their land. The lesson is stark. Give people economic freedom, industrialization and jobs would follow. Don’t poverty and misery would. Your choice

  77. Arnab,

    Somoy ney, naholey aaro likhtaam. I have one word for this article: brilliant! Buddhadeb is attempting Glasnost in Bengal, that is, very correct. The problem is that the CPM is internally divided on the issue. The established leaders (read Subhas Chakraborty) profit from the old ‘bhengey dao-guriye dao’ system: the reason why Mamata Banerjee and him are so close.

    At the rate the CPM has infiltrated the state apparatus, including the police and law and order system, I am afraid that a collapse of the party will turn the clock back to 1967. Buddhadeb’s Glasnost, much like the one unleashed in 1986 in the CCCP, can result in the same.

    Vasabjit

  78. An extremely lucid and thought provoking post about the sad state of affairs in Bengal today.
    However things seem to be improving nowadays albeit slowly.

  79. @Suyog:
    Not respecting Vivekanda,I can understand (too much pro-Hindu?)…
    not respecting Netaji, I can understand (too jingoistic?)….
    but not respecting Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose,I cannot understand…
    Or do you support Marconi’s claims to have discovered radio communication?
    In fact,they are much greater personalities than Silicone Sen.

  80. @Mr. Lover

    Don’t go by my internet moniker. Just like everyone else’s it hardly means anything specific (BTW it is written as Von Runstedt, a German name and a historical figure…Google it if you like).

    But your assumptions are mistaken and require sound rebuttal.

    “but let me tell you the Telugus or Kannadigas down south or the Punjabis or Biharis in the north and for that matter any race within the precints of the Indian boundary, are much more prowd of their race than Bengalis can ever dream of.I don’t know how you can feel ashamed to be a Bengali rather than being prowd of being one?”

    You say that Bengalis are not as proud as others, but are exhorting me to proud (as you concluded I’m ashamed). You are confused and it is obvious our notions of pride are different.

    I’m proud of my culture as any Kannadiga, Telugu, Punjabi, Bihari are about theirs. But being so I do not harbour any false superiority complex borne out of insecure identity. My culture is just one of many that has contributed to the rich heritage of the Indic civilization

    Also I regret the fact that you have referred to Bengalis as a laughing stock, which I feel is as unfortunate as the ruling of a single fascist government over the state for more than three decades.

    That fascist government came through ballot box. Your government will be as much fascist as much you allow it to be.

    You should remember that the whole of India looks up to Bengalis with awe even today, although secretly, and the Bengali-bashing they carry out in public is a weak manifestation of their inner fear of Bengal’s dominance over them in the national scene once again.

    Nobody indulges in Bengali bashing as such. My apologies, but how much of India you’ve seen? Bengali are rightfully blamed for importing and nurturing an imported ideology which is out of tune with our cultural ethos. No wonder native Bengalis are burdened with the self invited fascist monster.

    Forget about dominance, the self imposed political isolation has ensured that ordinary Bengali’s struggle to find their rightful place in the national mainstream.

    There’s no denying the fact that Bengalis have a sharper intelluctual edge than any of their Indian counterparts, and each and every Indian still acknowledges this fact, atleast to himself.

    Which decade are you talking about? Any public source data about the present times?
    Or just anecdotal reference? My experience as a supervisor and a recruiter in IT industry tells me that all out of college youngster irrespective of their cultural background perform equally. Applies for Bengali recruits as well.

    I would hope instead of running about finding the actual fault of Bengalis in my blog, I’d be highly obliged if you would come out of your air-conditioned glass house once in a while and look out for it, which is precisely the constant influx of people from other states eating in on the meagre piece of bread the government has been succesful in providing us.

    My my what Bhadralok arrogance and fallacies.

    Well, I don’t own an AC and my family members are village folk from Nadia. Yeah, I do spend 8 hours everyday in an AC hours.
    What influx of people are you talking about? Biharis and Oriya folks? What about rural Bengalis lining up to other metros in large numbers, crowding in slums and taking up menial jobs?
    And why do you fail to mention the influx of illegal Bangladeshis, abetted by local population and the politburo?

    Mr. Lover we should be very careful with the things we are proud of. And we should not overlook things that are real source pride because of ideology.

    An in this regard a lot of Bengalis are ignorant and have their priorities wrong.

    Talking about myself…
    I’m proud of our martial traditions. I’m proud of the fact that a Bengali kingdom of PalA dynasty once held sway over much of India. Their territories were only rivaled by that of the Maurya’s and the Mughals.
    Also a matter of pride is the fact that the PalA kingdom came into existence through a popular choice, perhaps the first democracy (if you exclude the 16 republics of the pre-Mauryan times).
    I’m proud of the feat of participants of the Sanyasi rebellion. I’m proud of Netaji and his magnificent Army.
    I’m proud of the fact that the Bengalis have produced chiefs for all the three services (2 for Army and 1 each of Navy and Air Force). This is a record yet to be broken by any other community.
    Add to the list the feat of the numerous revolutionaries.

    I’m proud of the contribution of Bengal in the spiritual heritage of our civilization though Sri Chaitanya, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda and Rishi Aurobindo. I should make a particular mention of Bauls and Rabindra Sangeet. I’m proud of them.

    But the hall of shame should too be mentioned.

    I’m ashamed when someones mentions the slogan “Chiner chairman amaar chairman” (Chairman of china is my chairman).

    I’m ashamed when names like Angana Chatterji, Sharmila Bose, Somini Sengupta and Sugata Bose regularly crop as authorship of India bashing articles in western Media.

    I’m ashamed when Sharmila Bose comes out with clean chit for the Pakistani Army action in 71, negated the well recorded genocide of lakhs of Bengalis.

    I’m ashamed when the so called Bhadralok of Kolkata seem to be unfamiliar with names of Kargil martyrs like Capt. Sumit Roy, Lt. Tilak Bhattacharya, Maj. Joy Dasgupta et. al.

  81. What passion from VonRunstedt !!!
    Could only come from a Bong :)

    Also, Rabindranath Tagore is the only person who is the author of National Anthem of 2 Countries (India & Bangladesh).

    Rabindranath Tagore is the only person whose poems have been adopted as the national anthem of more than one country.
    India : Jana Gana Mana
    Bangladesh : Amar Shonar Bangla

  82. OK I am a North Indian, Culturally inferior to Bengalis.

    I just happened to have spent quiet some time studying at IIM Cal and then working for ITC.

    Guys! You need to wake up and go beyond your cultural icons. There is one guy calling Haryanvi rustic folks “suck”. Well they were not the ones who brought British to India.

    How many Bengalis who work outside Bengal want to go back!

  83. Trying to put my wee little input in this thaught provoking discussion. Being in US for quite sometime now and being in Science (molecular biologist by profession), I have come across several Bongs who are scientists and they are good scientists but one thing is a definite hindrance to the Bongs who are from WB, with an educational background in vernacular medium, is their verbal skill in English. Oh! Its so terrible , being a bong myself it is hard for me to understand them at times and that makes them very timid in nature in their work places ( now don’t point out my writing skill, which is terrible I know). On the other hand I found people, from specially the southern states , who may have also had their education in their respective mother tongue, is much better speaker, although heavily accented, none the less a much better speaker and that boosts up their self confidence a lot.
    So that brings up the issue of education system in Bengal, I believe it definitely needs some major refining, I have never resided in WB so I know I am not an expert to comment on it but I guess that is the main reason that majority of the Bongs shy away from venturing outside their State be it for education or for a job and even if they do, would be back to their Mama in no time and it is not because they miss so much their platter of PHISH but their inability to cope up with the world outside Bengal. Its really sad to see that many talented Bongs let their life go waste for this reason.

  84. @VonRunstedt:

    Kindly add this “Suzi” to your list.

    @Suzi:

    Bengalis cannot speak English in a way Madame Suzi can understand. Oh what a catastrophe! But I am glad to see that since you have not resided in Bengal (and so have avoided the horrible system that produced people like GB here), you have avoided the plight of these poorly educated Bengalis who cannot express themselves in English.

    Good for you.

    I am not going to even point out the mocking of the “phish” part and your superior attitude, because this is not the first time we here have encountered it.

    It is ironic that you say this on the blog of Greatbong, a Bengali educated in Bengal and whom I can say, without any reservation, is the best writer in English on current topics in the mainstream media and the blogworld. I can also bet that he will be able to speak with the same lucidness, clarity and perfect command of the language, despite his rather “poor” education.

    Though most of us Bengalis here , who share his poor education, cannot write like him, I think we can express ourself in English as well as anybody else in India. Of course we may not be able to make sense to you and kindly forgive us for that.

  85. @North Indian: The Bengalis brought the British to India? Which North Indian textbook did you get that out of? Do point out the part where the Nizam of Hyderabad was Bengali. And do of course name a few North Indian freedom fighters other than Bhagat Singh, since you are onto that “Bengalis are non-patriotic” angle: the cornerstone for anti-Bengal prejudice.

    This is not cultural superiority on my part but when you say that Bengal brought the British to India I do need to retort. The British defeated Siraj in a fight, dear north Indian, unlike the Nizam who last time I looked was not a Bengali and neither was Bahadur Shah Zafar, who was so heavily into opiates and conflicted on joining the mutineers that he provided no leadership at a time when the country asked for it.

    Before I forget. The capital was moved from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911 because the British felt that the “North Indians” were much more subservient than the Bengalis who had demonstrated during the stuggle of 1905, heighted political consciousness and stringent anti-British feeling.

  86. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » India: Bengal, culture and passion

  87. @ Rohan,
    You missed my point. As far as I remember GB is a product of South Point or some other institute like that. I am in no comparison to GB’s writing skill for sure, or as a scientist even. I haven’t heard him so cannot vouch for his verbal skill but if I remember correctly that he was from South Point, then I do not have any second thaught on that issue. Yes, it is true that bongs have poor verbal skill (remember GB himself made fun of Pranab Mukherjee’s verbal skill, which post I do not remember though) but not because of the fault of their own but of the education system where english is not introduced until much later in their school days. You are right that inspite of their vernacular medium education background, many of them happen to write well though. Not only GB but many of the commentators write very well and sometimes I wish I was a good writer which would have helped me getting my work published easily. But lack of verbal skill is a deficiency where you have to present your work or may be even in day to day interaction with your colleagues outside Bengal.
    I happen to end up in these small skirmishes with many of you even though I hate it but I write what I genuinely believe or observe.

  88. Hello GreatBong

    I have not been following singur issue closely to make a comment (have been away from Kolkata and particularly newspapers covering that topic ).
    However there is a couple of points I would like to make about your observation on a bengali/marwari shopkeeper.
    It would be interesting if you were able to witness how the patience of the these otherwise patient/smiling shopkeepers vary from apparently affluent customers with those with lesser purchasing capability.

    There is another incident which I would like to share (pardon me for the big post – but had to add this part after seeing the last two comments ).
    One of my cousin was born and brought up at a place very close to where you are staying now. She visits us once every two years with her parents. On her last visit by a connecting flight from bangkok to kolkata – there was an elderly person with a distinctive crude indian english requested for an extra glass of coke. The air hostess ignored him . ( Once in her earlier visits she had found how easier for her it was to get orders faster done in restaurants in Kolkata than us who were residents of the city) having this in her mind she deliberately requested the same air hostess for coke and that hostess returned not only with a can for her but with two more for her parents.

    When she told me about this experience I said may be this is by and large a picture the shopkeeper/service providers
    attitude.

    It would be nice to know your thoughts on this

    have a nice day

  89. @Rohan – I am more disappointed in you rather than “north indian” if you do not know any other north indian freedom fighter apart from bhagat singh. just to refresh your (everyone’s) memory i am naming some of them … Sukhdev thapar, Hariram rajguru, Chandrashekhar azad sharma, Govind Ballabh Pant, Lala Lajpat Rai
    Purushottam Das Tandon, Lala Har Dayal Mathur etc… For me, they were not north indian freedom fighter but indian freedom fighters and so were Subash chandra bose, Bipin chandra pal, Khudiram Bose etc.

  90. GB,
    perhaps you can point to a link which shows the Singur was a “land sale” rather than “land acquisition” ? After your comment I did a google search of the newspapers. They all talk about “land acquisition” (with compensation) rather than a voluntary sale.

  91. @Amardeep: With your name, I totally understand why you are more disappointed in me rather than “North Indian”. You need not have mentioned it explicitly.

    Point 1: it’s “North Indian” who started the “Bengal handed over India to the British” thing. Of course, you do not find that objectionable. Nor do you come with a laundry list of non-Bengali traitors.Understandable.

    Point 2: For every freedom fighter you name and that too the names straddle several states, Bengal can throw up at least two names for each.

    Not that it matters and nor am I silly enough to engage in a competition, but it is essential to keep what I said in mind when the “North Indians” come pointing fingers at our role in the freedom struggle. This questioning of our patriotic bonafides was the context in which I made my comment , a context you conveniently “forgot”.

  92. @Debu: If the government thinks it can offer better terms then by all means it should.

    @Sriram:

    But is the state of the landless laborers different from corporate world employees who lose jobs? Do they have PF and retirement fund and the likes? I really doubt.

    No they don’t. But how is that relevant here? If there was no Tata Motors and they got injured, could they have drawn disability? No. The fact that farmers dont have PF and retirement is totally orthogonal to the issue. The point is that they have the same job security as the factory worker. Incidentally, many factory workers in Bengal who have their plants closed got neither backpay nor their PF.

    @Dipesh: Had started writing it before you emailed me. Yes the role of the extreme Left has not gone unnoticed.

    @Bonatellis: :-)

    @Von Runstedt: Tragic. However this is police callousness and is there everywhere in India. One of the news stories that deeply moved me was about a mentally challenged girl who had been repeatedly raped and passed about by truck drivers, and left to die bleeding on a rubbish heap where she died slowly for days in front of the whole city and the OC said ” We dont believe her. Have you seen how dirty she is? Which man would rape her?” Again no sense in pointing fingers to specific states.

    @Rick: Hmm…well I see nothing wrong in land being acquired for development—that is the way the world moves.

    @Corporate Serf: My point was that this was the same as eminent domain in the US. In both cases, the government was acquiring the land for handing over to private developers. It is not as if the government is forcibly taking over the land without “just compensation” —something that say the Chinese government does with impunity in China.

    I think the point is we are differing on the meaning of the word “voluntary”. I mean voluntarily as “given proper and above-market-rate compensation”.

    Agricultural land cannot be “condemned” noone lives on it in the first place. Secondly eminent domain is based on acquiring land such that the government can get more revenue.

    Thirdly, there was nothing preventing the farmers from moving court if they felt they could prove in court that the government was “forcing” them in a way not allowed by the law of the land.

    Development has to take place in any place and in a densely populated state like Bengal, someone has to be displaced in order for that to happen (this is not Utah). If the reason for displacement is the greater good, then there is no reason why it should not happen.

    @Vasabjit: Thank you

    @Rima: Hope so.

    @Asterix: Heh.

    @North Indian: Yes we handed over India to the British. And we are all cowards. Thank you for your comments. Most appreciated. And somewhat expected.

    @Suzi: There is little I can say to your most unfair observation that Bengali-medium students are weak in spoken English compared to people from other places in India. Of course, the fluency in English of the average Indian will not be like that of native speakers but to distinguish between states (not on accent but on content and style) is plainly impossible as a general rule of thumb.

    Now as to Pranab Mukherjee. Yes I mentioned his accent..specifically his “Horiyana”. I however never alluded to lack of clarity in what he said, on the contrary he is one of the most erudite politicians in today’s landscape. Unlike Deve Gowda.

    @Rohan: Let’s not get agitated here or get personal (the “with your name Amardeep” part being below the belt)

    @Amardeep: Yes freedom fighters should be Indians and not “Bengalis and “Punjabis”.

  93. @Rohan: “Bengalis cannot speak English in a way Madame Suzi can understand. Oh what a catastrophe!”
    Man, Suzi’s post really ticked you off, didn’t it? But is what s/he said so far from the truth? Maybe we should introspect why we are so touchy about critisism about the English skills of Bengalis (in general, may I add…better pc than sorry). Could it be part of the misplaced pride in the much lampooned ‘intellectual superiority’ that so many commentators here have touched upon?
    As a Bengali of East Bengal descent (bangal, to WB folks) who never spent more than a few unhappy hours at a stretch in WB (at Howrah station or Dum Dum airport), I can honestly say that I have NEVER seen anything which has even remotely suggested to me that this idea about a mythical higher level of intellect of Bengalis is nothing but just that…a myth.
    I feel intellect is a product of a well-rounded personality, an open mind, a desire to absorb knowledge, an ability to analyse information and a willingness to question. These and a multitude of other traits that define an intellectual are not dependent on race or ethnicity! You will find as many true intellectuals in Calcutta as you will find in the bylanes of Chennai or Allahabad or Bhopal or Trivandrum.
    The society and surroundings you grow up in makes a difference, of course. A person who has grown up in a home where classical music is heard, practiced and discussed is more likely to be knowledgable and inclined to taking up the art herself, than say a person who grows up in a violent society or in a dysfunctional family. But even in such extreme cases there have been exceptions.
    I do not subscribe to the idea that Bengali society of today is so permeated with high thinkers that Bengalis in general are intellectuals just by virtue of having the privilege of growing up in that society. As far as I know WB has more than its share of the scum of society, just as in any other part of the country, or the world.

    Bengalis are no different from the vast majority of the people of our country. They are just as intelligent or dumb, peace-loving or violent, trustworthy or devious as any other Indian. I feel that even the high passion quotient of Bengalis, on which this GB post stands, is also misplaced. I have come across and personally known enough hyper-passionate tamilians, sardars, gujjus, biharis, kannadigas, nagas, to have serious doubts about that generalization.
    I feel that the argumentative and passionate bengali is more of a stereotype than anything else, though not necessarily a derogatory one. Maybe, as time goes by it will fade away, as all stereotypes ultimately do.

  94. @Subhadeep: By your logic, passionate people occur everywhere and not just in Bengal. By the same token, people with poor verbal skills would occur everywhere too. If that be the case, why do you think my Bengali pride has been hurt when I oppose Suzi’s sanctimoniousness?

    @GB: No I do not think I am being personal. I am being forceful. There is a difference.

  95. @GB
    Language skills develop when they are started early on, its known that you can teach a kid more than one language before they are five years. In Southern States, with their mother tongue, english is given a priority in the vernacular medium schools also but not done in WB, and in today’s age of globalization, when there are no boundaries just limiting themselves to Bengali language is a definite minus point. Yes the intellect level of Bongs, I have never questioned it, its same like people anywhere in India. For that reason you could have atleast compared Chidambaram to Pranab Mukherjee not Deve Gowda, please.


  96. I think the point is we are differing on the meaning of the word “voluntary”. I mean voluntarily as “given proper and above-market-rate compensation”.

    You probably mean the word “sale”. Voluntarily means “of one’s own volition/will”.

    A transaction cannot be called a “sale” if one party has to enter into it at a price determined by the other party, no matter how passioantely you might feel the price offered is just (i.e. no matter how you spin it).

    I understand (and see in my friends and cousins) the frustration felt by years of stagnation and the desire to get something moving, but this is not the way to do it. Singur is one lousy small car factory, and in the bigger scheme of things it does not matter if the farmers acquiese / grumble or not. If these property thefts become a recurrent pattern, however, we will start seeing the ill effects. Indications to watch out for: no new successful companies form in West Bengal, only companies that come from outside are the large conglomerates, because these are the ones that have the wherewithal to plonk down enough in bribes, plus talented people contiune leaving Bengal. So the question is how many smaller / mid sized companies do you see trying to coming to WB?

    all the best

  97. No. I mean voluntary as “as voluntary as the law allows”. The law allows what’s happened at Singur, provided appropriate compensation has been provided. If not, I do not see why the farmers do not move court but instead resort to stoning and burning? It’s quite another thing that those doing the violence are extreme Left Naxals and landless labourers and *not* the owners of the land.

    “So the question is how many smaller / mid sized companies do you see trying to coming to WB?”

    Turn the question around. How many companies of any size do you see in Bengal if the farmers in Singur were allowed to carry on? How many new jobs do you see being created if the status quo is allowed to continue?

  98. V Runstedt,

    Satyen datter oi kobitaTar moto hoye jachchhe na? Just ekjoner bokami bhangte nijer “pride” dekhanor ki kono proyojon achhe?

    Incidentally sholoTa jonopoder modhye probably just lichchhabi-derTakei republic bola chole, kashi, koshol to monarchy-i chhilo.

    Gopal ki actually selected/elected?

  99. @Corporate Serf: Use of English would be appreciated so that everyone can take part in the discussion. Please. {One or two words of Bangla are fine, but not entire comments–we do not want to be clannish here since this is an all-India blog}

  100. @Rohan: I am sorry if you/anyone feel that I support “North Indian’s” comment. Actually, I do not feel that they are even worth to comment on. Also, I tried to cover whole of north india and not just punjab. I understand that “North Indian” provoked you in writing that reply but when you write:

    ” And do of course name a few North Indian freedom fighters other than Bhagat Singh”

    I think you missed the boat in countering his mindless statement.
    Anyways, let’s not argue about this bengali/punjabi thing. I am proud to be a punjabi but I take even more pride in being an Indian.

  101. Suzi,

    Purely based on anecdotal evidence, I would disagree. Almost all the Bongs I have interacted with speak fine English. Even on the blogsphere, some of the finest writers are Bongs-GB himself is an outstanding example as are people like Bongopondit and J.A.P.

  102. GB, Confused,

    Point taken.


    V Runstedt,

    Satyen datter oi kobitaTar moto hoye jachchhe na? Just ekjoner bokami bhangte nijer “pride” dekhanor ki kono proyojon achhe?

    Incidentally sholoTa jonopoder modhye probably just lichchhabi-derTakei republic bola chole, kashi, koshol to monarchy-i chhilo.

    Gopal ki actually selected/elected

    Rough translation with parenthetical ammendments:

    Sounds a bit too much like the Satyen Datta poem (I have actually forgotten the name here, the first line goes “Muktobenir Ganga jethaye mukti bitore ronge”, pretty parochial, but inspiring, somewhat like the English poets of similar genre). Just one person’s idiocy should not inspire such misplaced display of Bengali pride.

    Incidentally, out of the 16 janapadas, probably only the one controlled by the lichchhavis can be called a republic. Kashi and Koshol were monarchies (On hindsight, I could be wrong about Koshol).

    Was Gopala (founder of the Pala dynasty) actually elected/selected ?

  103. @ Corporate Serf

    I read your response, but I’m afraid apart from a general pontification about ‘property rights’, which is indeed a noble ideal, there is not much in your argument.

    Any development process has it’s winners and losers. Ask the American Indians in your country – who were moved to reserves, whether they feel that the ‘compensation’ they received was justified.

    So it is all very well to argue about ‘property rights’ and ‘market determinism’ of prices from the comfy climes of a developed country, but for India the decision has to be based on a cost-benefit analysis, as Alok Ray pointed out

    Besides – as far as I recall, the Indian Constitution does not recognise ‘Right to Property’ as a fundamental right.

    Regards job losses suffered by Farmers / Landless labourers, I thought it was Schumpeter to classified this as a form of ‘creative destruction’. This is how development takes place.

  104. I was not aware of the Singur issue before reading this post and the comments. Nevertheless, I understand that the following is not in dispute: (1) the landowners did not have the option to not sell their land, (2) the sale price per unit of land was fixed by the govt and (3) the individual landowners were not allowed to negotiate the price (although their collective pressure might have influenced it).

    I fail to see how such a transaction can be called voluntary. “As voluntary as the law allows” is just another way of saying that it was not illegal – it does not make it any more voluntary. If you want something badly enough, you have to pay the minimum price the owner is willing to sell it for. That is the only ethical way to acquire it, no matter how fair or reasonable you think your offered price is. Its the owners option to sell at your offered price or wait for a better offer. That is what is meant by property rights. Using the government to force your price on the seller merely makes it legal, not ethical.

    While this certainly is the same as Eminent Domain in the US, that only means that both are unethical. Recently (within the last one year), an eminent domain dispute had come up before the US Supreme Court. What made that case unique was that it was the first instance of the govt using Eminent Domain to acquire properties owned privately to handover to other private parties, for the purpose of implementing projects that would be for “the greater public good”. This was the first such instance of the application of Eminent Domain; earlier the govt had always used it to acquire private property for govt projects. Thats why it met with a legal challenge from the affected property owners, who lost in the US Supreme Court by a 5-4 margin (I think) with (generally) the conservative judges voting in favour of the property owners and the liberal judges voting in favour of the government. While Eminent Domain in any form is unethical, its potential to be used for abuse of property rights is far greater when it can be used to transfer property from private owner(s) to other private owner(s), instead of just from private owner(s) to the government. That is why this case rightly generated quite a buzz because it paves the way for greater and greater erosion of property rights in the US. After all, in practice the “greater public good” is nothing but the opinion of the govt in power, and almost always influenced by campaign contributions, kickbacks and bribes from the large developers.

    Whether the offered price was “above market rate” or not is irrelevant. If someone owns a pice of property, it is their right not to sell it at a price, say, 25% above the “current market rate” as determined by some analyst. Comparisons with the way the government acts in China are also irrelevant – just because huge violations of property rights are taking place elsewhere does not mean lesser degrees of the same should be acceptable to people in India or the US.

    Eminent Domain is just one more way the government interferes with the economy rather than allowing the outcome resulting from market forces. I do not believe it is necessary for development. But that is another big topic in itself.

  105. Nicely done.

    The irony is both Rabindranath and Satyajit, two icons who claim the greatest number of Bengali BIRG (Bask In Reflected Glory) victims, had extremely developed analytical abilities. Their analysis rarely, if ever, drowned in emotion.

    Satyajit’s obsession with precision and somewhat detached sensibilities have left many a Bengalis cold. And not only most of Tagore’s essays withstand the most rigorous analytical scrutiny, but also the pages of his greatest novels, Gora and Ghare Baire, are filled with brilliant logical analysis of two debates that at his time mattered the most: conservatism pitted against liberalism – in a social context, not economic – and nationalism against humanism.

    Both of them got more than their share of unfair criticism, threats and ridicule as they did not always follow the passionate Bengali’s prescription. Rabindranath’s refusal to be convinced of the merits of armed revolution and extreme nationalism and Satyajit’s keeping a respectful distance from Marxism and Naxalite insanity come to mind. Neither did other Bengali luminaries like Chaitanya, Rammohan and Vidyasagar ever went unopposed. So it is not that the reactionary, parochial and hysterical strains were absent, they just got more dominant and started winning.

    However, these differences could never deter the BIRG victims from appropriating and marginalizing Ray and Tagore, particularly not after a Nobel and a Lifetime Oscar showed up. Halpern’s look into correlation of low self-esteem and BIRG syndrome could be relevant here.

    I agree with S.Pyne that this discussion needs to be somewhat restricted to an urban, which includes the suburbs, upper/middle-class educated bhadrolok milieu. Pratham Alo (“The First Light” – Sunil Ganguly’s novel on Bengali cultural Renaissance) did not quite shine on the rest and naturally they have no reason to share the insecure jingoism which partially came out of that failure. “Tumi jare paschate raakhiyachho, se tomare paschaate tanibe” ityadi. (Whoever you are leaving behind will drag you down etc.)

    Finally,
    Main Entry: pas·sion
    2 obsolete : SUFFERING (obsolete or very appropriate?)

  106. @Suzi: I think I get what you mean. If Bengalis could speak English more fluently – they would find it easier to shine outside Bengal – it’s not the content that is lacking, but the ability to express it in an alien language which is missing.

    Of course I have seen it in a large percentage non-Bengalis, even from South India (where in general English is given greater priority than it is in Bengal), so maybe we’re making too much of it.

    I was speaking to a Chinese American colleage of mine a couple of days back, and he was envying the advantage his Indian colleagues have over those of Chinese origin – because of their greater exposure to English, he thought that Indians have it much easier working in the US than the Chinese. Despite the distinctly noticable vernacular accent of my Indian colleagues, they have an edge over the Chinese. So are we as badly off as we fear?

    What is lacking, I feel, is the absence of adequate exposure – partly fuelled by the attitude of many Bengalis that they would not like to leave the comforts of Bengal. Of course that attitude is changing slowly, but unless Bengalis have the experience of mixing with the rest of the world, we will never be able to to speak in our Bengali accented English with the same confidence of (say) an Yorkshireman or an Irish person (whose accent is as far removed from BBC English as is Pranab Mukherjee’s).

  107. Hi Great Bong,

    You are right in that the current law allows eminent domain, and furthermore, current legal practice raises no obstacles in the path of the government in practical terms. Lawsuits against the government are pretty stressful even for educated folk, and wouldn’t strike a farmer as being a practical way to stop the process, and methinks the farmer is correct in his assessment. He is probably doing what he thinks has a better chance of success.

    You are wrong in assuming the process that goes by the same name in the US is the same as what is being followed here. Please see my prior reply. The difference is actually large as is its effects on the economic life of the respective societies. The issue is actually larger than you (and others) make it out to be. Without clearly defined and timely enforced property rights, investments do not take place. When western commentators complain about lack of proper property rights in India, they might have in their minds a picture of pirated microsoft windows cd’s, but as far as Indian economic development is concerned, the real issue is when the small people have their (natural, but not actually present in the current Indian constitution, courtesy Indira Gandhi) right to property taken away; when auto-wallahs cannot carry more than one licence, and myriad other instance.

    What also irks me in all this is the smug certainty of commentators that they do know better than the very people whose land is being stolen, what is better for the state and by implication, better for them. Never mind that similar “elite” commentators told us in the fifties that a private businessman running a factory can only do so by exploiting the poor toilomg proletariat and hence for “greater good” (as you said in your comment to me, but hey it could have been anyone else) these private b%&tards need to be controlled and licenced. Clearly we were forced to change our external currency policy under duress, but old attitudes die hard, even among the younger generation. The bad guys then were the businessmen, now it is anyone who tries to assert their (non-existent, legally) property rights. You are really no better than Arundhati Ray, Medha Patkar and assorted loonies of that color.

    So, yes, you are right in that Singur would probably go to Tata and it does not matter. After all, we live in the glorious paradise where the party that drove Bengal from the second most industrialized state to the second least industrialized state has really got it right this time (honest sir, ar korbo na) and we just have to trust them. Tell me again why you are not in Calcutta?

  108. @Sourya: Thanks! Yes I read on topics which are of my interest, and I go every possible source on those topics.

    ——–
    @Asterix: Yes you call it passion. But my reply is directed more towards average outsider of current generation that hardly knows anything about Bengal beyond the abominable Left rule.
    ——
    @North Indian: I used the “suck” word. The Haryanvi gentry that we encounter as bus drivers, MCD/DDA minions, cops in Delhi deserve worse adjective. They are ones responsible for Delhi’s dubious distinction as most rude city.

    Regarding British, may I point out to you that it was the Mughal’s ruling from Delhi that invited the first British ambassador to their court and thereafter their nawab satraps in Bengal granted the trading ports!

    You seriously need a good history lesson.
    ——
    @Rohan: There is a peculiar class of Indians from all states. They depend on West for recognition and career progress. Their (self-defined) credibility in Western eyes is in direct proportion to condescension and ridicule for their kinsfolk.
    I bet Suzi hadn’t the good fortune to work with a bunch of Aussie or Scot blokes or she wouldn’t have been talking about vocabulary, pronunciation and grammatical constructs.
    ——
    @Corporate Serf: It is bad that outsiders refer Bengal only along with communism and it is worse when some Bengalis (no fault of theirs) are apparently ignorant of their own cultural heritage.
    About the historical aspects, the 16 pre-Mauryan republics were nominally democratic with differing levels of participation; probably Lichhvi had greater participation (Buddhist influence??).
    Yes, Gopala was actually “elected”. Not in modern sense, but he had the consent of assorted military leaders, landowners, community elders, village representatives. This is what the work of R.C. Mazumdar (rightly considered the Pitamaha among Indian historians) suggest. Ironically the monumental work of R. C. Mazumdar on Indian history, spanning 11 volumes, is shunned by the Leftists.

  109. Interesting bit about Gopal.

    I actually liked reading R C Majumdar when at school. Unlike our eminent historians he actually wrote in an interesting way. And, yes, I preferred the story of dead kings to the cultural history stuff. Though I should probably have paid more attention to the economic factors at that point. btw, do read his book about the indo-greek period (Kushans and the like). Really fascinating; and not much is known there either. All we have is a headless guy called Kanishka.

  110. The last few comments makes me believe that there is a slight confusion between what/who we interpret as an intellectual … and what/who is a pseudo-intellectual.

    In the first 26 years of my life that I spent in Calcutta, I felt strongly that the number of intellectuals had sharply declined from my dad’s generation and that there was an overpowering influence of pseudo-intellectuals in the city. I think I can give an honest opinion on this because neither was I an intellectual, nor a pseudo-intellectual …. I was a wannabe pseudo-intellectual, who eventually did not make the cut.

    I was a complete failure in that respect – what didn’t I do to get there!! Recited Donne and Barrett Browning from memory to the girls, discussed Derida and Marx with my political economy professor, watched Kurosawa and Fellini at Nandan, spent hours in Coffee House on Infusion and Kabiraji cutlet discussing the state of Indian politics … but still I failed!!

    But I guess I am happy not being an intellectual today – at least I am heavily contributing to the consumer-led demand that the economy is currently thriving on :)

    PS: ohh, how I miss the “rocks” of Calcutta …

  111. Adding to what the prev anon has to say:
    In Mumbai when a builder wants a family that owns a old house in a prime location to sell the property to them they send goons and beat them up and threaten them to sell it at the price the builder wants it for. The builder then makes a profit thats, i donno, 20, 30, 50 times more. The topic has been part of many a hindi films. Now replace the goons with government. I am not saying that the singur case is exactly like this, but are you not setting a precedent for it? I’d still swallow it if you take my home and build the metro rail in Mumbai, but i can’t if the govt takes my home for pittance and gives it to Hilton to build a five star there. u cud say its greater common good, but it doesnt impress me.

    Now, GB in response to my comment u say “The fact that farmers dont have PF and retirement is totally orthogonal to the issue….” and you compare their situation to how other factories shut down. etc.

    I’m saying if the affected number of landless farmers is very large, thousands, then you cannot leave them in the lurch bcos their capacity to find another job is not as easy as it might be for someone more educated than them or more skilled. hence rehabilitating them is a government concern if they are a large number. If you don’t do that you are preparing the next bunch of naxalities and extreme lextists. Altho it might seem ideal, its not impossible, neither wud it be the first time in the world that they are trained to find better skilled jobs. i think the US has such benefits.

  112. Dear Arnie,

    This is probably fruitless, but here goes.


    I read your response, but I’m afraid apart from a general pontification about ‘property rights’, which is indeed a noble ideal, there is not much in your argument.

    I understand this is a common sentiment in India. This is why India is poor, South Korea is not. It is an even commoner sentiment in West Bengal. Most educated Bengalis leave their state to seek employment in other states/countries.


    Any development process has it’s winners and losers. Ask the American Indians in your country – who were moved to reserves, whether they feel that the ‘compensation’ they received was justified.

    What happened to the American Indians (the pc term here is native american, go figure) is called genocide, they weren’t a loser in a development process, they were the loser in a by and large one-sided war: there was no choice involved. The element of choice is important, even though you don’t understand why. I will touch on this below regarding creative destruction, which, btw, you seem to have thoroughly misunderstood. Let me try to summarize your argument.

    1. Some sub-population got exterminated by rampaging hordes.
    2. Shit happens
    3. Hence it is OK for the govt to take the Singur farmers’ land. Oh yeah, we are actually giving some money. Yeh, isn’t Marx great!


    So it is all very well to argue about ‘property rights’ and ‘market determinism’ of prices from the comfy climes of a developed country, but for India the decision has to be based on a cost-benefit analysis, as Alok Ray pointed out

    The arguments all Indian Marxists revel to fall back upon. I don’t see you go to Amartya Sen and say: it is all very well to argue about government intervention and the democracy divident from the comfy climes of a developed country.

    South Korea started poorer than India in 1950. (same independence day, for the trivia lovers: from Japan, remember Japan surrendered on 15 th August 1945) They did not have labour rights. They did not have formal property rights either. But they started with a modicum of economic freedom and gained property rights first, and democracy in the eighties after student protests. So if I was speaking from South Korea, it woud have been OK?

    Let’s get to the cost benefit analysis and Alok Ray. Let us leave aside the fact that you did not read my criticism of that analysis and what it excludes from the computation of the just compensation. Exactly what analysis do you see there? Did you actually read his comment ? Naki veda-bakya hisebe accept kora jaye? He pointed out three things:

    1. The compensation offered if put in an interest bearing account (8% interest p.a.) yields more than the average income from the current land.
    2. The landless workers are at risk there
    3. Points out some reasons why Tatas might prefer Singur to Purulia
    4. Inanities about one-crop/two-crop lands.

    Sar mormo-Ta Thik hoyechhe?

    I already demolished 1. I haven’t heard any serious refutation of my points except:
    a> It’s good for you
    b> There is no property rights
    c> What is this property rights nonsense anyway? O US-eri shobha paye, shala NRI.
    (that last was you)

    This is not a cost benefit analysis. It still does not give criteria we are using to decide if this is for the common good or not. It does not give any numbers to decide if the loss due to point 2 is outweighed by the gains due to industrialization, or indeed how we should choose the coefficients in the appropriate general linear models. There is no way to judge how he reaches the conclusions he does. In the light of this I would summarize his post as

    “It is good because the guvment is telling you so, and I teach at IIM, so there!”


    Besides – as far as I recall, the Indian Constitution does not recognise ‘Right to Property’ as a fundamental right.

    Yep. Tell me something I don’t know.

    Did you also know that we were indeed free people and Indira Gandhi (Hallowed be her name) took that right away in one fell swoop. Score one for you. Yeah, we do not have that right, because we lost it during the emergency. Kudos, you are making your case realy strong


    Regards job losses suffered by Farmers / Landless labourers, I thought it was Schumpeter to classified this as a form of ‘creative destruction’. This is how development takes place.

    Understand this very clearly. Stealing land by the force of government might is not creative destruction. There is no creative component here. Job losses are regrettable, but most people do find jobs, particularly in a growing economy. That is not the issue. property != jobs. You don’t have a right to a job. You have a (natural) right to property. One that was (unnaturally) taken away from you during the worst period of recent Indian history.

    I will not let you confuse the two in the minds of people.

  113. GB,

    1 After reading comments about “my freedom fighter vs your freedom fighter”, I have come to conclusion (actually I concluded long back, this only for purpose of flourish), that the only way Indians can realize the value of freedom and unity is when they are enslaved after every 50 years.
    I officially invite East India Company or Ummah Inc. to come and screw Indians.

    2. Yes “many” bengalis do speak english with accent, so do punjabis, so do gujaratis or tamils or us UPwallahs. Why should speaking English be a criteria for culture.

    3. I wonder why someone can only feel pride by dismissing or undermining others. Yes I am proud of being from UP, but why should that make me less proud of Bengal or Gujarat or Karnataka, as an Indian I am proud of each and every part of India, no exceptions.

    PS. Just like there is difference between Orissa and Bengal, same way there is difference between Punjab & UP, there is nothing monolith called “North India”

  114. 1 After reading comments about “my freedom fighter vs your freedom fighter”, I have come to conclusion (actually I concluded long back, this only for purpose of flourish), that the only way Indians can realize the value of freedom and unity is when they are enslaved after every 50 years.
    I officially invite East India Company or Ummah Inc. to come and screw Indians.

    2. Yes “many” bengalis do speak english with accent, so do punjabis, so do gujaratis or tamils or us UPwallahs. Why should speaking English be a criteria for culture.

    3. I wonder why someone can only feel pride by dismissing or undermining others. Yes I am proud of being from UP, but why should that make me less proud of Bengal or Gujarat or Karnataka, as an Indian I am proud of each and every part of India, no exceptions.

    PS. Just like there is difference between Orissa and Bengal, same way there is difference between Punjab & UP, there is nothing monolith called “North India”

    Gaurav,

    Best post so far!

  115. @Suzi: I would disagree to your observation. I have interacted with Bengalis and North Indians, and presently I am surrounded by South Indians. South Indians do not speak BETTER English than Bengalis or North Indians. What they do is speak WORSE ENGLISH MORE FLUENTLY. Coupled with the heavy South Indian Accent, it is real hard to understand. (Again, this comment is about the average South Indian person).

    About writing skills, let me tell you that it is part of my job to review project documents written by the team members and find errors, and my experience says the least English errors are found in the documents prepared by our Bengali developer. The person from UP and the person from AP are almost equally bad, but I’ll keep the UP guy a little ahead. Some of their sentences make no sense at all. Again, this is purely based on my experience and does not prove anything in general, but then I’m sure your observations are based on your experience as well. Then why generalise them?

    @NorthIndian: I am a Bengali working outside and I want to go back. I hope there are others as well.

  116. How many agree that the comments sections of good blogs have become the chai stalls that kolkkata bengalis refer to? A good advantage being, all this is documented.

  117. @Corporate Serf and Debashish:

    Brilliant, just brilliant! I did introduce the element of doubt about the government intentions in the comments section, but I was nowhere as clear or persuasive as the two of you.

    @Arnab:
    “I think the point is we are differing on the meaning of the word “voluntary”. I mean voluntarily as “given proper and above-market-rate compensation”.”

    Oops! That’s all I can say.

    And the “greater good” argument? That is usually given by people who are trying to justify an patantly unethical act. The same was given by Truman when he dropped the A-bomb on Japan.

  118. Heyyyyyyy! The previous comment was by me. How on earth did Sriram’s name come there? Arnab there’s some problem with your blog comments section. Maybe we posted at the same time and it took Sriram’s name instead of mine…???

  119. Just to be clear. the following comment was by me:

    __________________

    @Corporate Serf and Debashish:

    Brilliant, just brilliant! I did introduce the element of doubt about the government intentions in the comments section, but I was nowhere as clear or persuasive as the two of you.

    @Arnab:
    “I think the point is we are differing on the meaning of the word “voluntary”. I mean voluntarily as “given proper and above-market-rate compensation”.”

    Oops! That’s all I can say.

    And the “greater good” argument? That is usually given by people who are trying to justify an patantly unethical act. The same was given by Truman when he dropped the A-bomb on Japan.

    __________________

  120. GB dude, this sounds eerily like a conversation my Bong friend and me were having over lunch a couple of days ago. Though I am not Bengali, I spent two years there doing my post-grad and “consider it my spiritual homeland” (yeah that’s just a line, but I do like the place, the language and the people!).
    We were discussing how the Bongs have ruined themselves by associating their lot with, of all things, communism. True, it’s an “intellectual” thing and gels well with all things Bong- their love of philosophizing, their unique sense of common identity, their undeniable superiority complex and feeling that Bongs only have the monopoly on “kaalchar”. But communism been the bane of the state,having left it an economically desolate area and its people, who have been traumatised by the corruption and downfall of an entire generation. Not to mention problems like overunionisation and the Naxal problem, which could have been completely eliminated had communism never found favour among the Bong intelligentsia.
    And we were also discussing how, finally, the WB government under Buddhadeb has made the right moves in aping the China model, and ironically, how the shoe is on the other foot now. CPM in cahoots with the big bad Tatas treading on the poor farmer comrades led by Mamata-di is truly a funny thing to witness….if it weren’t all so tragic.
    You could have been there. Thanks for this piece- not your usual light stuff, but an occasional dark brooding piece does you justice!
    Anoop

  121. (last post cont’d)
    Read the other comments **after** I’d posted and was thrilled to see Prof Ray’s post. I had it in the back of my head somewhere that you were his son, but had forgotten. He probably doesn’t remember me but I was one of the many undone by his multiple-multiple choice format in first year MicroEco at Cal (I got a B Minus) :)))
    But sons shouldn’t pay for the crimes of their fathers, so you still have a devoted reader….hehe
    Anoop

  122. @ VonRunstedt, khub i bhalo likhecho and what a great almanac of Bengali history… Also am glad to see that you are quite proud of being a Bengali, although the contrary was conveyed through your earlier post. But you should try to get your facts right before rebuking others…You’ve expressed doubt over the fact of how much India I’ve seen, well, let me tell you that I’ve been to almost each and every relevant part of the country, which includes staying in Bombay for 4 years and in Bangalore, where I had the opportunity of interacting with a large cross-section of people from the whole of India, for 4 years. I’ve also spent over an year in Hyderabad and few months in Chennai and Delhi spread over a number of visits… I’d also like to tell you that I’m presently an IT professional employed in one of the top three organizations of the country and have to spend almost 9.5 hours per day in AC rooms, but have not severed my roots from the soil of which I’m a son…
    @ dipesh… Thanx 4 correcting the spelling of ‘proud’ in my earlier post, but I think you do not have the minimum capability of differentiating between a typing mistake and an intentional one

  123. GB, regarding the calcutta SA ODI incident, I agree with you. But I am not sure if the same would have happened had Dada been captain. Then again, you never know. Dada might have been subject to worse treatment.

    BTW, isnt it time for a post on the non-performance of GC and his pied-piper ways with Indian cricket?(now that Dada is back with a bang!)

  124. Parnab,

    Well said but one cannot ignore the fact in Singur, the fertile land has been forcibly at very low rates. One should not ignore the plight of these people. For them, the intellectualism and downward fall does not matter. And these people, since their skills are not for working at an auto factory, doesnot help.

  125. BTW, following comment was not posted by me, someone else used my name.

    Dec 8th, 2006 at 9:51 am

    @Corporate Serf and Debashish:

    Brilliant, just brilliant! I did introduce the element of doubt about the government intentions in the comments section, but I was nowhere as clear or persuasive as the two of you.

    @Arnab:
    “I think the point is we are differing on the meaning of the word “voluntary”. I mean voluntarily as “given proper and above-market-rate compensation”.”

    Oops! That’s all I can say.

    And the “greater good” argument? That is usually given by people who are trying to justify an patantly unethical act. The same was given by Truman when he dropped the A-bomb on Japan.
    —-
    Ok, just realised it was by Shan.

  126. @Arnie: If you are using the constitution as your defense, then let me remind you that as per the same constitution we are a *socialist* republic, so I don’t see what business the WB govt has to acquire land from common people and give it away to a private company. Shouldn’t they be doing the exact opposite? Nationalise every industry, right from manufacturing to software, and appropriate the assets of all these Tata’s and Infosys?

  127. @Sriram Venkitachalam: Good point. Here Tatas are the big builders, and they have hired the government to be their goons. An unscrupulous builder can use goons to forcibly buy prime property at low rates in Mumbai, build a hotel on it and make a lot of money. Many people would get jobs, the govt would get tax revenue, so it can be said to be in the “greater public good”, is it not? While everyone is likely to agree that was unethical, somehow it is fine and praiseworthy when the government acts as the goons!

    @Shan: Thanks

    Many (though not Arnab I think) seem to be concerned about the plight of the laborers that worked the fields at Singur. That is irrelevant. The landowner (farmer) is their employer. If your employer sells his business, you might get laid off. You are not entitled to any compensation, least of all from the govt. Say, for example, that you own a fine piece of residential property and McDonald’s approaches you to buy that property because they think it would make a good location for one of their restaurants. They offer a price attractive to you and so you sell it. Now, most probably your maid servant and gardener are no longer employed by you and lose income as a result. They are not likely to find employment at that McDonald’s either. So does that mean that you or McDonald’s owes them compensation? While on this example note that the govt could use Eminent Domain to force you to sell your prime residential property at some arbitrarily determined price, saying that while you only employ a maid servant and gardener, Mcdonald’s will employ 10 people and be a source of greater tax revenues, so its justified as being in “the greater public good” :)

    About Singur, another argument made somewhere above in favor of the govt was that if this is not done, the Tatas might go to another state. What that means is that (a) there is no suitable site for a factory in WB available for the price that the Tatas want to pay for it (without using Eminent Domain), OR (b) if WB govt does not do this, some other state govt will and so WB govt should do it rather than lose the factory… Neither of these makes Singur ethical. Instead, as pointed out by Corporate Serf, (b) means that India needs a clear definition and enforcement of property rights at the central govt level, that cannot be violated by the state govts.

    While the analysis by Alok Ray is irrelevant (since a landowner should not be forced to sell no matter how much “above market rate” the offered price is), it also not complete. I agree with Corporate Serf who says that a complete analysis would see the property as an investment or something of value in itself and not just in terms of how much annual profit it generates through farming and comparing it to some post office scheme. Properties have market value not just due to the profit generated from what they are currently being used for (e.g. farming, or rental income from a residential property), but also due to what they can potentially be used for (site for an auto factory or a McDonalds). Anyone wishing to acquire such property has to pay that market value to acquire it since that is the cost (under prevailing market conditions) of setting up their business at that site (and which they would have to pay short of resorting to goons or Eminent Domain). In his support of the govt’s action in Singur, Alok Ray said “That’s how economic development takes place and is considered justified when the gains of the gainers are more than the loss of the losers”… no offence, but that is a very Marxist “govt knows best” view of how economic development takes place.

  128. Arnab,

    Okay, let me muddy the water on Bengal’s notion of ‘culture’. To whom does the culture of Bengal belong to? There is a ‘microscopic minority’ (to use Lord Curzon’s term) of Bengalis, that is, the bhadralok community residing in urban areas and Calcutta who aspire to ‘culture’. It is completely and utterly unrepresentative of the aspirations of the millions living in the villages of Bengal. It is precisely why, though mass mobilization succeded in Bengal for the independence movement, it was incapable of sustaining the Congress Party after 1968. It was the anti-intellectual CPM (yes, the CPM used to be deeply critical of ‘culture’) that got the common villager’s support.

    Even if one looks at the creation of East Pakistan, there is a deep class element to it: Muslim peasant versus Hindu Zamindar. The latter aspiring to ‘culture’ (even dallying with egalitarianism), while completely ignoring the relationshing of domination that allows him the liesure time to do so. Tarashankar addresses this duality time and again; Tagore, in his urbane world view, never does. But Tagore is more palatable to the ‘bhodrolok’, Bibhutibhusan or Parashuram are merely footnotes. In short, the nuanced ‘culture’ of the ‘bhodrolok’ is accepted at the cost of physically and intellectually alienating and subordinating the vast majority of the people of Bengal. And, even if an alternative notion of our much venerated ‘culture’ is accepted, it is always wrapped up in such revolutionary rhetoric that it strangles any humanity straight out of it.

    What Bengal needs, and I am in complete agreement with you here, are scientists, businessmen, and professionals; not pen wielding maestros of urbane disenchantment.

    Cheers,

    Vasabjit

  129. Here is a bit long documentary on the whole controversy. Check it out:

    My opinions about the documentary:

    It is in Bengali. There are some sub-titles but overall it is very difficult for a non-Bengalis to understand. The documentary has many sound bites and visuals that border on the verge of being propaganda for the people resisting the move to the acquisition of their land for the Tata small car project. Some of the logic being offered is specious.

    If you ignore the propaganda parts, you will find genuine empathy for the people. The people, shown in the video, will be destroyed if this land is taken away from them. As a person partial to libertarian ideas, I believe, that people of Singur have no moral or economic incentive to sacrifice their prosperity for the greater good of the state of West Bengal. The concept of “sacrifice for the greater good” has been exploited to the hilt by the political leaders of the devloping countries in order to push through policies that have had disastrous consequences in the past.

    I value property rights and, therefore, I cast my lot with Debashish and Corporate Serf. I understand that Communism has ruined West Bengal in the last 30 years and an impetus to industrialization is needed. But this is not the right way to do it. Bad policies followed by the government in the past can not be corrected by another set of bad policies in the present. One has to pay a price for good things in life. They just do not materialize out of thin air. It is morally incorrect to subject a group of people to pain for the supposedly greater good of the society. If the local people are not convinced that the project is not for their own good then the government should start their hunt for another piece of land.

    Regards,

  130. Amit Verma mentions the US Kelo case in his post (link in above comment by IA) and provides a link with information about that. That was the case I was referring to in my comment of 4:13-4:15 above.

  131. Pingback: Free Markets and Land Acquisition at Retributions

  132. Arnab,

    There seems to be a sudden revival of civilized non-polemical discourse here with all traits of the classic ‘adda’. Well, this post is a veritable paradox because for the first time in my life have I ever witnessed such an event. A Bengali laying down the grounds for a pan-Indian conversation on property (both material and social). I have indeed heard about such conversations taking place in various parts of Calcutta, but that was back in the 1950s.

    Considering the quality of most of the responses, it must be noted that Bengali intellectuals have not evaporated. They left like the Jews from post-war Europe; driven by the need to create a new life from the broken ambitions and delusions of ‘nationalism’ and ‘socialism’. Here we are, two experiments later, a matter of a century, but what is a century in the larger scale of things. It makes one emotional in merely considering that through this wierd medium, this unexpected technology that acts as a deus ex machina, the remnants of the exodus have gathered. Perhaps not physically; but the idea of renaissance is about the mind. Any sociology doctoral candidates or ABDs here?

    Vasabjit

  133. In bengal it is quite difficult to discern between pseudo and real intellectual….Nandan area is full of vagabond intellectuals who are trained to be non productive by our archaic system of education.
    Looks like you have not kept yourself abreast with Singur..Mamata is a liability for Bengal now accepted…but the issue of Singur is about farmers being forced out of their ancestrol land…the same CPM party opposed such issues related with SEZ in other states..

  134. Glad you finally picked this one up Arnab. Its not only in business. When I reached the echelons of higher learning, I was *stunned* to find that almost all the students who cleared the toughest All India Exams from Bengal (Kolkata , Durgapur, Siliguri … in that order) were **allmost** **all** **non-bengalis**. I always harbored the (very wrong) impression that beaten to a pulp, badly cornered, & shunned by the rest of India, education was the last forte of Bengalis. Not at all. Not at all. (Caveat: Yes there might be a couple of toppers from each batch, but they come from a large base, whereas %age wise, from a small number of non-bengalis appearing for these exams, they sucess rates are spectacular) There are some institutes in Kolkata – Saha Institute, Agriculture of Science, Bose Institute which are loaded with Bengali researchers. Perhaps you or some other reader may have something to add to their merit, but, talking to some friends who are employed there, I found them pretty mediocre and run-of-the-mill. In India today, Primary, Middle & Technical education is a business and higher scientific is the pursuit of the most dull & average. But still, TIFR, IISc produce much better fundamental research. Sadly, I hear ISI is also lately regressing to the mean. Anyway, I digress. To end my rambling, I was also bewildered to find that the classes in almost all presitigious schools of Kolkata were clogged with the non-bengalis. Notice I say non-bengalis and not marwaris. Marwari kids stick to what they know, and smartly so. A good life, a BCom, a chartered, Papa’s gaddi on burabazar, sexy girlfriends, preferably bengali – a good life. I’ve had some fantastic damn smart marwari pals who could anyday challenge the intelligence of the best of India. But they avoid Sciences and particularly Engineering like the plague. But eventually, it is they who are successful ( e.g. Vijay Malllaya & LN Mittal (both followed the very typical routes I mentioned), whereas all our stud bengalis toppers who adorn the first page of Anandabazar the day after HS or Madhyamik results get out vanish into thin air 3yrs out. Eventually probably working in some obscure lab or some arcane academic project that noone gives a damn about. Breaks my heart to say this, but the rich educational tradition of us Bengalis is just that – a tradition. These days it is actually rotten to the core.

  135. Dear Arnab,
    Little bit about how West Bengal is changing during Buddhababus time along with IT and Its and Singur.

    Buddadeb Babus glass is Half Filled Up.
    Bengal is Changing:
    My Observations.

    1. There was a time when we used to find the “Kazer Masi” used to come along with her teen aged daughter to do the daily choir and train her to become maid servants, but now you find the same maid has given her son and daughter to school, she has come to know the value of education.

    2. You find an Auto Rickshaw Driver though earning Rs 3000 per month will put his son /daughter in a school, what he has been deprived off( 3R’s).

    3. You find that all the Sahara agents and Peerless agent are making money by collecting small amount of money from all. The habit of savings has increased not decreased.

    4. In Burdwan Dist alone there are nearly 45000 Dmat A/c holders.Mutual Fund ‘sare booming. Even the lower middle class has come to know that you have to take risk. West Bengal is a hot seat for Rural Marketing for al the so called Banks( ICICI,All Bank UBI) and Insurance sectors.

    5. A young man with all mediocre education is going for business without getting a job. but a time was there when young Bengalis had to hear from his parents that “ Tory baba thakurda business kare nei tui kei business karbi”.Now you find Bengalis doing business particularly in the out skirts of Calcutta. But In Calcutta unfortunately you find an Oriya (Pan Shop) or a Bihari ( Tea Stall owners, Iron Shop)apart from Marwari capturing the big tread and commerce. I went to Midnapore, Burwan, and Nadia and have found the yough Bengali boys are doing business (First Generations).Though small but it is a humble beginning.Taking distributorship from Compaq , HP, Tata Indicom, rather businees are forced on them for the Rural market development, and they are grabbing the opportunities.
    After all Business is caught not taught, it is also an evolutionary ( Risk taking) process.

    6.If you go in the interiors in Bankura , Nadia, Burdwan one interesting this that you find that the son of the farmers are not interested in doing farming they want to get educated and change their family profession.Very often you find students in Calcutta university and Jadavpur university coming from Midnapore districts .They are interested to the moderns science and computers technology.
    If you ask them what your father do they say “ Fuler Chash in Mechada”but they are going for higher education and doing it.
    I know it is difficult for them to throw away A.T. Devs English To Bengali Dictionary and switch over to Wikipedia, but still a positive effort are going on , the Cyber Cafes in Dankuni, Belur, Bali, Sonarpur are full.It is an evolutionary process a metamorphosis.
    Bengal along with whole India is taking part.

    7.If Tatas’ comes up with the factory with Rs 1000 Crs investments in Singur you will have a Macro Economics Multipliers effect where the local will be benefited. You have to switch profession in order to increase your income there by standard of living. The economy as whole will climb up the value chain, the locals will be benefit , Uttar para/ Dankuni/ Sharafuli will have auto ancillary hubs the Hind Motor’s excess land can be used for Auto ancillary, where already a core competence lies.Buddababus great job to bring the Tatas.

    8.So called Calcutta’s/Greater Calcutta’s Middle Class Bengalis who are great supporters Buddhabaus have found that it is better to go for educating their children at the best . In the spending hierarchy, education comes 3rd after shelter and fooding and clothing.
    N numbers of Engg and Management ( Private ) Colleges has come up in West Bengal, ( Standards Pathetically Poor)still in number churning we are lagging behind AP ,TN, Karnataka. You will find comments like ‘Paser Barir Pintoo, computer chalai (C Skill Stes) or compani oke Amerekai patachhe”.
    Bit educated Middle Bengalis found an escape route by encouraging their children to sit for SAT/GRE/GMAT and later on like CAT/MAT/XAT . Any way this is an all India urban phenomenon.

    The back bone of these middle class Bengalis were English education .The pelvis of the Bengalis were broken in 1947 partition of Bengal.

    In partition the Bengalis and the Punjabis got the raw deal, the Middle Class Bengalis went in to Coma stage when Joyti Basu stopped English in the primary section.
    John Kenneth Galbrath told “India was privileged to be an English Colony”
    Bengal Missed the bus.

    So Bengalis are crawling up the Ab Maslows Need Hierarchy

    Panacea for the Bengalis:
    The CM is really doing great thing, at least he has the vision. Be it Azim Premji,Narayan Murthy or Ratan Tata , at least he can give them a feel good factor for Bengal,he can generate confidence in them.

    I have stayed in Delhi and Mumbai, I used to find the Delhi Walla will use a word called “ Jugar” in Mumbai they use two words called “ Bhaw, Sauda” and the most loved word by the Mumbaikars is “ Dhanda”
    In Bengal the you find the word “ Dhekchi, Jani na Hobe Kina’ a negative perception in everything like MamataDi.
    Boss “ektu chaloo hote hobe” if not “ Chaloo Chele” atleast JMTT “Jate Matal Thale Thik”
    Bengali’s Comfort Zone( Macher Jhol Bath, 47 Bus Dhakuria To BBD Bag, Go to Office at 11’O Clock and say Joyti Babu Jindabad “ ashi jai maney pai kaz korle upri pai”.10ta -5ta Duty.Ready to work for a marwari even at Rs 2000 in burrabazar under humiliating condition though with M Com and MA certificates from C.U.
    Sell all your ancestral properties in Lansdown Road, Bhawanipore, Shyambazar, Shobabazer to the promoters and go to Sonarpur( south 24 Parganas) Barasat, Asoknagar( North 24 Parganas) .
    Boss Come out from the Comfort Zone you have it in you a little bit of American Can do Attitude can do a great difference.
    “Rekecho Bangali Kore Manus Karoni” Mamatadi are you listning.
    Com’on Change Gears.I am sure Bengalis can make it we are born to win

    All Random thoughts in your blog.

    Thanks & Regards,

    Debashish Brahma.

  136. Great post!
    Stayed in Bengal for three years and couldnt agree more. This Singur show-off might determine the future course of development of Bengal.
    I am keeping my fingers crossed.

  137. Arnab, the analogy of a company’s workers to the tenant farmers doesn’t fully apply. Under the land reforms carried out by CPM’s own Operation Barga in 1978, the tenant farmers are promised a lot of rights. Rights on a large proportion of the produce they harvest from the portion of the land they till. Hereditary tenancy rights. And if the owner decides to sell the land, he has to first offer it to the tenants before offering it to anyone else. What the CPM is doing now is violating the contract they made with the tenants 28 years back.

  138. @ Kaunteya
    Please note as I said that Bengal is changing ( rather Changing Gears) but still it is changing at a slow space. But some thing is happening.
    Let’s go back to history little bit
    I want to say one thing in 1947 the 1st blow to Bengal came when it was parted by the Brits. Millions of refugees poured in form East Pakistan, it was a political bankruptcy, Shurawardi was cunning so as Jhinna. ( Netaji’s absence was felt)
    Gandhi was a mastermind and in moving out the mighty Brits ( Non Violence)but he had two people who he was unable to manage rather obstinate in his stable. One was Mr. Jhinna and the other was Mr. S.C. Bose.Mr Jhinna insulted Mr. Gandhi( Cunning Hindu) and gave a final blow to India by parting away from India on Religious grounds forming Pakistan..
    Subhashbabu won the tripuri Congress election that was the vital blow for him , all know the story after that.
    But taking the link from Arnab’s main posting from Subhasbabu and Ghandhi.
    Subhash Babu was a typical Bengali Bhadrolok, he did not had the “ Gandarer Chamra” which India Politician have got, but in India politic and business you can’t afford to be Gentleman.( Mamatadi has got very Good “ Gandarer Chamra”)
    Secondly Nehru found Subhash Babu was a threat to him to be the 1st PM of this country, Even if Patel would have been the1st PM things would have been different.( Kashmir)
    Nehru had a tremendous anti Bengali feeling, Dr Roy literally had to fight with Nehru to get all the projects clear for Bengal. It was fortunate that Dr Roy continued as CM in those Post Independence turbulent days, still he could manage those catastrophic years of 50’s.
    After Dr Roy we found those reckless leadership of Atullya Ghosh,Parfulla Sen, Ajoy Mukherjee and spine less Siddhartha Ray , who were nothing but chamchas of Nehru Gandhi Dynasty. It was absolutely direction less Bengal, 71’ Bangladesh War, Naxal Movement started. In 60’s and 70’s Bengal was still very important state in the Indian economy and contributing substantial to her basket due to her geographical location advantages, skilled manpower, and Mineral resources.
    1977 Joyti Babu 1st time in power have given all the ‘sarba hahras’ an opportunity to make some thing. Nepotism , corruption, group Sims, mal practice, making the porous borders of India Bangladesh( Influx of Bangladeshi Muslims giving them ID Cards and ration cards to increase the voter bank), militant tread unionism were rampant in Joyti Babus days, and winning elections after elections was easy by manipulating voting mechanism. Other neighboring states were not doing well.
    It seemed it is point of no return for Bengal.
    In 2000 Buddha babu enters with lot of hopes, at least better than the past. That’s why a little wind of change is coming; the euphoria has not died down.
    Bengal and Maharashtra, Maharshtra was not affected by Partitioned in 1947. Garbing land is Singur is creating so much of hue and cry, so think loosing our land with empty hand crossing over to another country (The Refugees from East Pakistan). The UCLA paper that you have given is a lop sided article many things have not been taken in to consideration. I may be wrong. Or I may be sounding too optimistic for Bengal and Brand Buddha.

    http://www.indiainbusiness.nic.in/indian-states/westbengal/IndusPol.htm

    After all India is changing can Bengal be left behind?

    @ Bengali Guy: Your observation is right, a Non Bengali knows what he is doing and is effective( Doing Right Things) may not be that efficient( Doing things Right).
    Bengali’s educational approach are efficient not effective.
    In this modern highly competitive world of Cut Throat condition you have to be smart and all matters in effective Execution and getting things done with a proper focus, what Bengalis are missing?
    Bill Gates, Michael Dell, etc all these American Mavericks were college dropouts it hardly matters if you are a grad or under grad as far as business (making money) is concern. I’m sure if LNM walks in IIMA to give a visiting lecture he will have a
    Chalk-a Block class room where you will find toppers of IITs and IIMs patiently listening his lectures may be taking down notes, or you find Vijay Mallya giving convocation lectures in IIM B’lore.Yes you may draw parallel C.U. and Harvard. They make C.U. famous. Boss what matters is your success not PhDs and MBA /M.Tech, but how you use it.

    He (Bengali) has got knowledge but utilisesation of the knowledge to the hilt in making money is rather not possible for him. Doing a B.Tech, M.Tech, MBA or even getting a PhD don’t really matters if you can’t properly utilize it.
    Brahmins have to become Bania after going to Business school and clearing CAT, XAT, and MAT.
    A successful Business Executive is nothing but a successful Bania who knows all the modern tools like Balance Score Card, Six Sigma, and CMMI.
    Boss in today’s world ( Knowledge economy) it is matter of coupling Saraswati and Lakhmi.
    Sarasswati bandana( which Bengalis are good at) have to be properly used to bring in Lakshmi. That is the real smartness ( Saraswati Lashmi)which Bengalis are lacking.

    Yes another point regarding the schools in Calcutta where you find the non Bengalis kids, you have rightly pointed out. Good observation.
    Schools Like St Xavier’s, Don Bosco, South Point, St Lawrence, ect so called good schools are fully saturated they can’t accommodate any more kids .Population in Calcutta is swelling.( Some times you require Fat Donation which many Bengali parents are unable to pay).
    Govt Schools like Ballygunge Govt, Hindu, and Hare are typically Govt schools which are lagging behind.
    Now of late some new schools like Heritage, Delhi Public school, and Garden High are coming up in and around Calcutta, but fees are too, high very few can afford.

    On the other day I met with one of

  139. @ Bengali Guy
    On the other day I met with one of Math’s in one of CAT coaching class, he was telling me if the Class IX, X, XI, XII, and Bsc, BCom, Bsc (Engg) 1st Year is not very clear and sound a candidate cannot get a good percentile in CAT. He is absolutely right.
    If school foundation is not good it is really difficult to crack these All India Exam.
    Yes I do agree schooling matters.

  140. @debashis brahma : but so was punjab affected by partition. In fact some would say even more than bengal.
    The point of that study paper is to show the decline of Bengal, economically, at hands of Communists. it clearly shows that from 1977 onwards, bengal fell into wrong hands.

    Anyways, there are lot of good things that may have been done by the communists for the people to elect them repeatedly. I agree, that the study did or must not have inclued the positives.

  141. Bengali Guy,

    i agree with you almost completely.

    And Arnab… what can i say… another superb post.

    I think we have just one clear cut option ahead of us – become level headed, pragmatic, chuck art films and useless politics and embrace enterpreneurship, become businessmen, job providers, job creaters. Change ourselves and become like punjabis/parsees or perish.

  142. Oh yeah… and the commies of bengal…. i cant hate them enough.

    I cant believe that people still have a softcorner for commies and leftist ideology. Given thatthe commies ruined and neutered our state in their 30 years of misrule.

    Jyoti Basu is the greatest traitor to bengalis ever, not nehru.

    The bengalis are themselves to blame also.

    Amongst other people, its either the well off and/or the academically gifted guys who take up the responsibility of bringing about positive change, development and prosperity (ie. create jobs) to their society.

    But amongst bengalis, the ones who are upper class, choose to spead their lives like the idle rich, digging art films and reading poetry, while the brightest of our students are the ones most involved in (leftist) student politics and/or choose subjects like nuclear physics or statistics, so as to end up (as Bengali Guy put it) doing some arcane piece of research in some CSIR lab.

    We need Purnendu Chatterjees and Tathagata Duttas by the score ASAP.

  143. In their heroic mission of reforming the system Charu Mazumdar and Kanu Sanyal ended up wiping away a complete generation(or at least the best of it) from the map of not only bengal but most of eastern India. Make no mistake those who got sucked into the ‘Black Hole’ were the best, the creme-de-la-creme. Jadavpur, Shivpur, Durgapur, Kharagpur all came inside the blanket of Naxal Revolution.

    - Cheetos

    ^^^^^^^^^^ SPOT ON. WE LOST A GOOD 1.5 GENERATIONS OF OUR SMARTEST GUYS IN THE STUPID EXPERIMENT OF COMMUNISM/NAXALISM/ANTELAMI.

  144. Pingback: The Indian Economy Blog » Shallowness of the West Bengal Land Reforms

  145. @ Corporate Serf

    Regards Property Rights in India. They were amended far before IG did away with them. The fourth ammendment (in
    1953 far before IG came to the scene) of the Indian constitution says the following:

    ‘No property shall be compulsorily acquired or requisitioned save for a public purpose and save by authority of law which provides for compensation for the property so acquired or requisitioned and either fixes the amount of the compensation or specifies the principles on which, and the manner in which, the compensation
    is to be determined and given and no such law shall be called in question in any court on the ground that the compensation by that law is not adequate.’

    Know why? Remember that small thing called the Zamindari system ? Would you apply the same arguments to plead their case? So what the government giveth, the government can taketh away.

    Similarly if the Native Americans :) were cheated out of the american dream by a systematic genocide (or a one sided war), can’t one analyse the singur issue as a similar case of Marxian dialectics (??). After all what was good for the gander should be good for the goose (or was it the other way around)?

    Surely you are not arguing that all of south Korea’s success was due to access to Property Rights? How about issues like government protection to the domestic Chaebols? the defence being sublet to the US?, investment in education? size of the country? language? (We are still arguing whether Belgaum belongs to Karnataka or Maharashtra).

    I understand property rights are important (it is certainly the flavour of the season in the International Financial Institutions). However it is all about prioritising. Certainly compensation must be ‘just’ – but does ‘just’ mean engaging in rent seeking activity?

    @ Mohan: our ‘socialist’ endeavour is a part of the preamble not the fundamental rights.

  146. On the eminent domain issue – don’t fully understand why the govt had to get involved in the first place. I am guessing its because of the agricultural/non-agricultural land distinction but would appreciate some clarity.

    IMHO, in a transaction between 2 private parties, the Tatas should be dealing with the landowners, right? Its a contract between 2 private parties. Today, if a BPO outfit wants to set up a centre in India, they find a suitable place and negotiate a rent/sale price with the property owner. If they find it too expensive, they just find some other place. The ‘suitable’ place is Singur and the industry is automobiles instead of BPO – why should this be any different?

    Gautam

  147. @kaunteya:
    In Punjab there was a complete transfer of population the Shiks and the Hindu Punjabis from West Pakistan came to Punjab and the Muslims( Indian Side) went on the other side( Pakistan)
    Here in Bengal the Hindus came this side with empty hand and the Bengali Muslims stayed back in West Bengal.
    Jute Cultivation was a prime business in undivided Bengal the Jute Mills are in this side of Bengal and the cultivation was done on the other side.
    Punjabi refugees came like Nandas( Escorts) , Munjals( Hero Group) etc had the business skills which they developed in West Pakistan.Yes I do agree Punjabis have got more “Can Do Attitude” than Bengalis but again
    Green Revolution was done in Punjab whole India got benifited but the( Khalistan) Brindenwala and Operation Blue Star every thing started in Punjab the whole India had to pay for it.
    Yes I do agree Joyti Babus era was a real downfall, Buddha babu is trying to change.
    @Bengali Guy: Any comment from your side.

  148. It’s too good, can’t help write a little. “Passionate Bongs ” , learn a lesson from Kerala . There the current Marxist govt has gone for an ADB loan which they had vehemently opposed a few months back and forced the hapless Congress govt to backtrack . Now of course the news makes a small headline ( mostly on national news channels ) but no didi-s to linger on the issue for days together ….

  149. (LONG POST WARNING)

    Arnie,


    Regards Property Rights in India. They were amended far before IG did away with them. The fourth ammendment (in
    1953 far before IG came to the scene) of the Indian constitution says the following:

    ‘No property shall be compulsorily acquired or requisitioned save for a public purpose and save by authority of law which provides for compensation for the property so acquired or requisitioned and either fixes the amount of the compensation or specifies the principles on which, and the manner in which, the compensation
    is to be determined and given and no such law shall be called in question in any court on the ground that the compensation by that law is not adequate.’

    Know why? Remember that small thing called the Zamindari system ? Would you apply the same arguments to plead their case? So what the government giveth, the government can taketh away.

    I was wrong about Indira Gandhi. In fact the final nail in the coffin of property rights in India came under the post-emergency Janata regime, as Amit and others have blogged about. Now that we have the minor quibble out of the way…

    I know you are a great believer in government efficacy, rights and probably believe that you owe your life, liberty and freedom to the government. These beliefs are indicators of a shackled people. Among all free people however, these rigths are deemed natural: not for the government to give, nor for the governemnt to take away. Tilak was free, you are not.

    If the denial of property rights had been about abolition about zamindari system, the law would have been restricted to lands actually under zamindari system. I see no such restriction. This leads me to believe that the “zamindari hatao” statements were mere excuses. The political and economic leadership, each for a different reason, believed in the supremacy of central planning, and did not want pesky individuals in the way. Past injustice had nothing to do with it and if you had spent even a fraction of the time in India as your command of Bengali would indicate, you would immediately know that to be the case. You are being intellectually dishonest as you have been throughout this thread.

    One could argue, as you haven’t and as (for example) Gaurav Sabnis has, that since the zamindari system was inherently unjust, and appropriation is an appropriate policy response to correct this historic wrong. There are severe shortcomings of this position: both ethical and economic.

    Ethically, this position would have been tenable if reasonable effort had been made to determine the descendants of the farmers, whose land was taken away by the British to create the zamindaris. But think about it. Even that would not work. Most zamindaris created by the Permanent Settlement Act of 1793 were existing holdings. Local chieftains, who already controlled the land were basically told to pay a certain amount of money to the British exchequer, or lose the land. Subsequent economic hardships and mismanagement did lead to many such forfeitures, in which event the holding was auctioned off. Any decent history of the babus of Calcutta is essentially this history. The effect of this is that the “first illegal acquisition” gets pushed further and further back into history.

    No matter where you draw the cutoff date, there would have been dispossession before that. The fact of the matter is this: at no point in time is our system of laws and regulations going to be perfect and no one in one’s right minds would suggest nixing present progress in rights and equality because of past injustice. That would be unethical. What is more, since the act of supposed “common good” would be more recent than the act of alleged wrong-doing, and since usually neither the aggriever and the aggrieved are among living, people bearing the brunt of oppressive government regulation would perceive this as an unjust vendetta and would take steps to minimize losses to themselves (a la laffer curve).

    Furthermore, it is natural to assume that even if the government went about violating contracts and property rights wily nily, the more recent contracts would not be violated. This is certainly not the case here, or anywhere else in W Bengal. The operation Barga bestowed certain legal rights upon the cultivators (bargadars). Among them the right of first refusal in the event of a sale of the land. Now, I personally do not consider a forced exchange a sale; but the government position, and that of many other bloggers is that these comprise a valid sale. The question is, did the Bargadars get a chance to buy the land they were cultivating? I would imagine not, but please feel free to correct me if you know otherwise. In the event they were not, the government is violating a more recent contract, again unethically.

    So, in summary,

    1. yes, I would apply the same argument to plead the zamindar’s case. A past wrong does not justify a present wrong when both the perpetrators and the victims are long dead. It leads to ethical, and economic mess and a general climate of lawlessness by the powerful.

    2. The land is not the government’s either to give or to take away.

    3. Zamindari abolition was just an excuse for the state to deprive people of their rights because they believed in the rightness of their cause (central planning) (btw, how do you know that the WB government is doing the right thing for general good? their record is abysmal, and the buddha team that everyone seems to idolize out of desperation has not actually proved themselves)


    Similarly if the Native Americans were cheated out of the american dream by a systematic genocide (or a one sided war), can’t one analyse the singur issue as a similar case of Marxian dialectics (??). After all what was good for the gander should be good for the goose (or was it the other way around)?

    You have a thing for Native Americans, don’t you?

    You have to explain to me what “Marxian dialectics” is.

    It seems to me what you are saying is this:

    “This massive injustice happened in America, so it should happen here”.

    Even you should recognize that this is not a valid argument. This can be used to justify pretty much any atrocity. BTW, I am curious, why do you keep bringing up Native Americans? Did you forget about slavery there?

    I have been to some Indian reservations as some of the natural wonders out west lie in these. Technically, these regions are outside the territory of the US. If there is any justice in this world, these territoriality agreements should be scrapped and these lands need to come under the normal economic system of the rest of the land. Reminds you forcefully why our own special laws governing economic activity in the North East and Kashmir need to be scrapped if we want these places (again of great natural beauty) to prosper. So we will have to pay more for oil from Assam, or some of the refineries will move there, tough!


    Surely you are not arguing that all of south Korea’s success was due to access to Property Rights? How about issues like government protection to the domestic Chaebols? the defence being sublet to the US?, investment in education? size of the country? language? (We are still arguing whether Belgaum belongs to Karnataka or Maharashtra).

    When S Korea started out they did not have any codified rights, let alone property rights. But by and large, they have maintained more economic freedoms for their people. The chaebols were actually a drag on the system; kept the banking system completely backward. They have managed to increase competition there, which is why they recovered from the nineties crash much faster. Compare this to Japan: has been the sick man of Asia since 1990; primarily due to excessive government meddling in the financial system.

    The defense issue is important and certainly saves the South Koreans a ton of money. The fact is that was not the overriding factor for South Korea’s growth, freedom was. Case in point: US also propped up puppet dictatorships all over Central America and South America (even South Korea was a dictatorship until 1980s). These all pursued regressive economic policies and paid the price. (And no, just opening up to the Western companies is not free market, the residents of the land need to have freedom)

    The fact is you are not going to get a perfect test case: another India the same size history and geography, but one that had economic freedoms at independence. You cannot use that lack to turn away from facts that stare everyone in the eye (and the pocket book).

    I understand property rights are important (it is certainly the flavour of the season in the International Financial Institutions).

    Pardon, me! It wasn’t clear to me that you understand how important it is. This is what you said:


    I read your response, but I’m afraid apart from a general pontification about ‘property rights’, which is indeed a noble ideal, there is not much in your argument.

    Any development process has it’s winners and losers. Ask the American Indians in your country – who were moved to reserves, whether they feel that the ‘compensation’ they received was justified.

    So it is all very well to argue about ‘property rights’ and ‘market determinism’ of prices from the comfy climes of a developed country, but for India the decision has to be based on a cost-benefit analysis, as Alok Ray pointed out

    To me when someone say “noble ideal” it means they are going to axe it. Your position seems to be just defend the government blindly, using whatever catch phrases seem handy. When you posted earlier, not many were talking about property rights, except a brief mention by shan and it seemed expedient to diss it, now that more people are weighing in favour, you are choosing a more politically palatable hue.

    However it is all about prioritising. Certainly compensation must be ‘just’ – but does ‘just’ mean engaging in rent seeking activity?

    Ah rent seeking ! Read the wiki article. The only monopoly player here is the government. If anything, they are the ones engaged in rent seeking. They have transformed and retroactively negated prior agreements and rights, for benefits to accrue to them (tax) and Tatas (cheap land).

    The connection to the Indian experience is even more ironic. Gordon Tullock had been the first to analyze rent-seeking behaviour. However, to quote from the paper:

    The phrase rent seeking itself, however, was coined in 1974 by Anne Krueger in another influential paper, “The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society” (1974).

    Guess which were the countries that Krueger studied in that 74 paper? India and Turkey.

    From this article by Tullock


    Kreuger’s paper focused attention on third world mixed economies in which government intervention was extensive. She provided quantitative estimates of the social losses imposed upon the economies of India and Turkey by rent-seeking for import licences. According to her estimates, such losses amounted in 1964 to 7.3 per cent of the national income of India and to a staggering 15 per cent of the national income of Turkey. Numbers of this magnitude were sufficient to turn the heads of even the most left-leaning of the world’s development economists.

    It is perhaps worthy of note that the three early contributors to the rent seeking literature – myself, Anne Kreuger and Jagdish Bhagwati (1984) – had all spent a good deal of time in the Far East. This is a region where there co-exists a number of immensely successful cultures capable of generating high quality art, and literature. Yet many of these civilizations are economically backward, despite the fact that their emigres perform extremely well in foreign environments. The rent seeking concept provides an explanation for this curiosum.

    Lines that seem eminently relevant to the present discussion.

    From the wiki article again:


    Rent seeking often occurs in the form of lobbying for economic regulations such as tariffs. For instance, if a domestic corporation producing widgets can lobby the legislature to levy a tariff upon widget imports, then that corporation can sell its widgets at a higher price. If the legislature bans the import of widgets, or effectively bans them through high tariffs, then the additional price extracted can be quite significant. Collusion between firms and the government agencies assigned to regulate them can enable extensive rent-seeking behavior, especially when the government agency must rely on the firms for knowledge about the market.

    The moral hazard of rent seeking can be considerable. If a firm can calculate the cost of lobbying, bribing, or otherwise causing the government to enact a favorable regulation, then it can compare this cost with that needed to accomplish a similar benefit within the market—for instance, by capital improvements or increased efficiency. If “buying” a favorable regulatory environment is cheaper than building more efficient production, then a firm may reap incomes entirely unrelated to any contribution to total wealth or well-being. This results in a sub-optimal allocation of resources (money spent on lobbyists and counter-lobbyists is money that cannot be invested in research and development, improved business practices, employee training, or additional capital goods) and retards productivity growth.

    Claims that a firm is rent-seeking therefore often accompany allegations of government corruption, or the undue influence of special interests.

    Rent seeking may be initiated by government agents. The agents may solicit bribes or other favors from the individuals or firms that stand to gain from having special economic privilege. This feature opens up the possibility of rent seeking as the basis for a new political economy. In such a political economy, exploitation of the consumer is a cooperative endeavor by rent-seeking individuals, private institutions, and government agents.

    Each line seems to be directly written with the Singur deal in mind.

    Hypothetically (I emphasize, only hypothetically), the following scenario might hold:

    Tatas actually have reasonable alternate locations to Singur (after all it is basically an automatic plant, not too many workers needed, though these probably would not be in WB), but by giving this concession to the cpi(m) (bragging rights for cpm come election time) they might extract a promise from the cpim not to have labour troubles at Tata locations nationwide. This might seem like a desirable outcome for everyone, but consider this: the cpim, like all parties, has a fixed capital of troublemakers and assorted goons. With the Tata deal in place they will be diverted to other businesses, probably leading to a lower overall utility for the state and the nation.


  150. But amongst bengalis, the ones who are upper class, choose to spead their lives like the idle rich, digging art films and reading poetry, while the brightest of our students are the ones most involved in (leftist) student politics and/or choose subjects like nuclear physics or statistics, so as to end up (as Bengali Guy put it) doing some arcane piece of research in some CSIR lab.

    Don’t tell people what to do. They know their business best

  151. @VonRunstedt
    This is in reply to what you wrote to Rohan about me thriving to get credibility in the western eyes. I believe English is an international language at this age, not just restricted to the English people and every person speak English with their own style, you cannot really give up your accent totally but can rectify it way better if you want to be heard by others and that is important right, when you have to present your views or ideas. I will try to give one small example of a white guy who is originally from Tennesse, extremely brilliant and his ideas have made our research lab get lot of grants/funding from NIH but he himself was not successful because of his strong southern accent ( Yes it is difficult to understand the Southerners here too! ) which made him shy to venture out beyond north Carolina for a lucrative job and indeed he used to be surprised by my clear English which I believe is a plus point for me because Iam not scared to venture out anywhere in the world. Good language skill is not at all to get credibility in Western eyes and you should know better then that, and if you would have known me personally you would have known that I would never suck up to anybody to get success, my upbringing and moral doesn’t permit that but atleast by good english skill has not made me a vagabond roaming in the streets of Cal with a boat load of degree and I believe first I have to make good for myself then only I can think of others. If my idea was to make fun of my kinsfolk I would not be giving my comments in RTDM and take the wrath of the fellow bongs, where ofcourse I find myself frequently or actually I would really be writing down now how the natives of WB speak English which really is not as pleasant or sweet as you want to believe!

    @Joy for ever

    I really believe that bongs write way better then many of the Indian counterparts but if you are open to the criticism from an outsider ( both of Bengal or South India) it is equally hard to understand them both but at least the Southerners do not hesitate to open their mouth but lots of Bongs do.
    @ Sayon
    Exactly my thaught but you have put it way better then me.

  152. @ Corporate Serf

    I am not sure how you got the idea that I am a great believer in government efficacy. However I do believe that Markets fail often and the case for ‘greater good’ often necessitates Government intervention – sometimes in favour of the masses sometimes in favour of the industrialist.
    Regarding the Zamindari system – I agree it was not perfect, but we have a natural experiment right in the neighbourhood – the feudal system, sardars whatever was allowed to continue in Pakistan. It was destroyed in most parts of India (despite the inequities of the system). you cannot destroy an inherently pernicious structure without destroying the object from which they derive their authority – in this case ‘property rights’. Now I cannot accept that the continuation of acceptance of ‘property rights’ has been beneficial for Pakistan.

    second – property rights constitutes two words – you seem to be concentrating on the latter. Property had a connotation of ‘Zar, Zoru, Zameen’. The system of slavery ensured that humans could be acquired as property (and ofcourse with the concomitant property rights such as – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Droit_de_signuer). So what constitutes property is not immutable. It changes with time and social taboos..

    Now that we believe we have solved our moral connundrums – humans are bad property but land is good property, hence this chorus of ‘natural rights’. Who knows – 100 years down the line, public enonomics might argue that it is good to subsume individual rights for greater good?

    So, Do we know that the Government is working for the ‘good’ of the society? No. Maybe it is. Afterall that is a function of a mature democracy. Do we know that an individual would work for the good of society? Unlikely (invisible hand notwithstanding).

  153. arnie,
    too many philosophical differences. I have to run anyway, go home tomorrow, in the middle of packing, so this has to end here. I think I understand what you are saying and do believe you are wrong (mathematically, you are using the wrong cost function). I also believe that if our society makes the choices you suggest as opposed to the choices I (and others) suggest we will create a society that is stunted, poor and envious of others’ success. Time will tell who is right. Karmaphal and all that.

    Best of luck and happy holidays to everyone, enjoy the rest of the year and have a great new year!

  154. Corporate Serf,

    Fair enough. For the record, I enjoyed your posts and do agree with quite a few things that you say.

    Good luck and have a great time back home.

  155. @Suzi: I am open to criticism and when you say that Bongs hesitate to open their mouth, I agree wholeheartedly. That’s why I said that South Indians say worse English more fluently. I only disagreed with the opinion that Bongs’ knowledge of English is inferior to the other Indians.

  156. @Joy Forever: Much as we would like to believe that our fellow Bengalis know English as well as someone from (say) TN or Kerala, I fear that as a percentage, South Indians who know English well strongly outnumber us. I’m not talking of the people lucky enough to be taught in good English medium schools, but the vast majority. A whole generation in Bengal lost out due to the policy of the WB govt to remove English from the curriculum. The South Indian states, in comparison used English as a national alternative to Hindi, and profited by it.
    I think we all agree that the lack of confidence in facing the world has had a dismal consequence in Bengalis failing to get a place under the sun.

  157. Here is an article in BBC on English. You can not miss out the importance of English in the Global Economy.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6162611.stm

    I agree with Sayon about the general level and spread of English in the southern states. What the heck, my ‘bai’ (housemaid) could read English !! You won’t find the average shopkeeper / housemaids in Mumbai or Kolkata doing that.

    In the western world, communication skills are very important. And Suzy may not have put it in the right manner but her intentions were to make people of Bengal realise their mistakes and correct them. I am a probasi Bengali i.e. born / bred ouside of Bengal and used to hate it when my cousins used to make fun of my/our Bangla but we used to get back by asking them to pronounce ‘Sulakshana Pandit’ :)

  158. that list of great benaglis… ironically… does not have soumitro… poor apu…. also of all the great footballers… panna, PK, chuni… and many other greats… only PK finds a mention…Jyoti Basu is not there, neither in Buddhada… although ABA Gani Khan Chowdhury is…

  159. Don’t tell people what to do. They know their business best.

    ^^^^

    well they evidently dont. look at the state of west bengal.

  160. >> the Congress-party-held Center’s discriminatory fiscal policies towards CPM-ruled Bengal

    @GreatBong,

    Quite true. Congress has a history of doing that. But then, dont you think Leftists have a major role to play in ruining Bengal, rather than non-Bengalis.

    Also, you say, Bengal marginalized. What ?? The stupid commies decide the future of India just on the basis of a few measly votes. They have enforced their outdated ideology on India (more so, harmed Bengal more than anyone else) for quite a long time. See how they blackmail and bend decisions that affect India. High time they realized that winning a few seats in Bengal is not equal to the mandate to rule India.

    Ohh and by the way, I think Netaji Bose was a much better man than Gandhi. Sadly, Gandhi won the political machinations game. So much for the saint Gandhi.

  161. I agree with a lot of what you say-but don’t you think the farmers who don’t want to give their lands should also be given a ear?

  162. Intersting write up. But like other Bengali intellectuals you have emphasized about the problem, not the solution. People outside of Bengal will appreciate the write up because they dont know much about the period of the downfall of Bengal. But a person like me would say, whats new? we all know about the problem.Do you have any solution? I am sure not.

  163. @Samrat: I thought Arnab had given the obvious solution:

    “Cause it is high time that we got off our cultural highorses and realized that all the intellectual hot air, the generational hurt, the cultural feel-good and the “what Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow” wishy-washy cannot compensate or justify the lack of jobs and opportunities in our beloved state.”

    In bullet form:
    * Get off our cultural high-horses

    Once we do that and start working at building our state, we will start regaining the high ground we had lost. Automatically. The true artists will always create great art. What the rest us – the run-of-the-mill plodders – can do is to create sufficient prosperity to be able to afford to support great art. Instead of trying to pretend to be great intellectuals ourselves, let us be wealthy appreciators. It may seem demeaning to aaNtel Bengalis to do something as mundane as earning pots of money, but it is the only way the state (and art) can flourish.

  164. Being a ‘outsider’ or a ‘normal indian’ i have often been a witness to bengali ‘herd mentality’.

    I dunno why..but since school, college to job…i have always had a few bengali friends!!.

    With all due respect to bengalis…i completely agree with the ‘anti-bengali’ feeling in many places. I remember during college me a few ‘northie’ buddies of mine used to dislike a few bengali classmates to the core.

    They were all the same… smokers, drinkers, talking in bangla even when other people were part of the conversation and etc etc. Even this was okay..i mean even punjabis or baniyas or other ppl have quirks..but really was irritating was there constant crooning of ‘gr8 bengali’ propaganda!!. Phew!..it was mind numbing!!

    Another example is present in my appartments. The place where i live has a lot of cars..and everymorning the cleaners can been seen washing and scrubbing!. Few years back there were a mix of all types…now unfortunately all bengalis remain. And i hate it!!

    They just are not willing to do a good job!..also if u wish to substitute one guy with another…the next guy wud refuse!!!!..even if u offer him more money!!..its like a ‘gang’ or union!.

    phew!!

  165. now i know why you think you are demented…:-)

    anyways, no one does an introspection like a bengali does, what say…

    and Suhel Seth is not entirely wrong, haven’t you noticed that Non-Bengalis of Bengal are far ‘bhadro’ than many Bengalis of Delhi

    Bengalis were not much about commerce before …but now they realise (hopefully) that good commerce helps …as for the cultural highhorse, i sincerely hope they keep riding it.

  166. About the little experiment you gave about Sari Shop. It is such a truth, I infact experienced it personally, while going Shop hopping in Garia Hat along with my Cusin Sister in 2006 I experienced the same. She wanted a particular kind of sari, I would call that more of a kind of designer sari, but unfortunately we were looking at the wrong place. I particularly remember a shop where allmost all the salesman were bengalis(at there late ages, proud begalies for that matter ;-)), the shop itself is huge, two storied, and should be very old structure, right in the center of the Garihat Crossing. We had a very bad experience there looking for the sari. ;-)

    Nataraj Chakraborty

  167. Hi GB, nice to read your much crafted article. You tried to draw links from history, both cultural and political. You tried mixing up things to serve a common goal to the theme of the essay. I have to admit that any expert will give to 10 upon 10 for the essay. But it seems that you are one of those who could never touch the soil. Weather you support Buddhadeb, or blame Mamta, any person who is aware of the in situ development of the conditions of poor people in West Bengal, will easily understand your depth of understanding in these issues. You are trying to blame a culture for something which has a global appeal. Though CPM’s 30 years should have been enough for the state for considerable industrialization and employment, it failed miserably to fulfill its promises, for which it once came to power. And now Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee is trying to open the doors to the capitalists whose target is again to squeeze the already squeezed poor people. Now most of us understand that like many times before, all its promises are fake and just like they cheated the software industry by making a CITU there also, all of the future projects will also suffer. If he is so industry prone, why are so many small scale industries are closing everyday around (cotton for example). What is he doing for the already existing industries? Even SEZ are not bad. but the way they are trying to exploit the micro-politics and micro-economics of these places will definitely bring a demographic erosion to the socio-economic and political stability of the local people.
    Ita really laughable to blame the bengali passion for something which is not only restricted to West Bengal but also many places around the world. Are u aware of Kalinagar incidence in Orrisa, the Anti-posko movement in Orrisa, the protests of the farmers in Haryana, Punjab and Maharashtra against SEZ. Are you aware of the tribal demographic rights for cultural autonomy and customary rights over local resources which is a WHO issue, the rights of miners in many places right from North East India to Africa. If you can see the global characteristic of these issues, I believe you will not go blaming the sari shop owner Bengali for the Nandigram and Singur events. The simplest way I suggest you to live in one of those villages for atleast one week before making any such bourgeoisie comment.

  168. Hello,

    Interesting neutral stand.I presume you are right. However this critical self reflection should not undermine the developments taking place in other cultures which have developed with the wave of mordernization.The stagnation within the state is alarming still most of the acedemacians come from within the community say it in J.N.U or NASA.Bengalis have maintained their dominance in acedemic careers. The need is for a holistic growth that serves the interest of all classes.

  169. DH This is towards your comment:
    You are missing the root of the cause! The article truly does an excellent job in exploring the root cause! I totally aggree with the author(GB), infact if this article was not written by him than probably I would have written it. Though I know it’s out of the context from whats happening very currently in Nandigram but the surprising thing is that if you are ‘objective’ enough to look at the matter in a different perspective than much of it will seem to you to be true to you.
    In your Comment you bring up blaming, it’s foolishness to bring up blaming any particular Political party for the issue in concern in this article, you totally missed the point, infact you should be aware that any Political Entity for that matter is always representation of its people, its thought process its attitude is by and far reflection of its peoples thought process and attitude, all this year CPM has taken advantage of this principle to the destruction of economic soundness of our state and even currently Mamta is also trying to provoke similar behaviour out of its people. The right thing to do in this scenerio would be to have an ‘Objective’ perspective. Since that is the most natural of what can be expected from people like you who are at there heights of intellectual matuarity, so should you be Objective and have a new look.
    You are darwing examples of Kalinagar incidence in Orrisa, farmers in Haryana, Punjab and Maharashtra,
    I think you are missing the point again, protesting against something like this is quite natural and is very much democratic and no way being deterred in this article, it is infact fundamental rights of the people, but if you try giving it a thought you won’t be able to find out many such ‘Nandigram’ like incidents following up such protest in your set of exampler. And thats the point, the point that the escalation of the ‘Protest’(or similar kind of protest) in such a bloodletting pandemonium being rather surprisingly advertised as a ‘Glorious movement’ in the minds of the larger citizens is definetly the outcome of that root cause disscussed in that Article, namely Selfpropagated self-loving propangadized intellecual Bengalis.

  170. HI Natraj,
    At least it seems that you are more serious in understanding the present industrialization issues of the people of Bengal than GB. I am really glad to see you trying to be objective towards it and trying to find a root cause. Without indulging into war of words, let me put it straightway like this: The Bong Passion is not a subject of current affairs. If the readers are aware of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s writings , he also wrote about the typical bengali habits of being selfish, jealous and prone to discuss others. But the point in this context, I will ask that how many bengalies have ever tried to do justice to his observations, even those who contributed to these article. Had we tried to lend an ear to his observations, GB’s article would not have drawn so may responses. But let us honestly agree that really we are also bearing the same passion of selfishness and discussing shortcomings of others every moment and it is out of that passion that we are leaving our scribes here. I never saw any marwari writing about how they live in filths and their offsprings walking in dirty bazars to schools, still loving their gaddis in that profitable bazar. GB probably did not notice when even south-Indian guys speak in tamil or telegu in the midst of others. No its not my intension to mean that marwaris or south-Indians are also bad in certain aspects, but I want to say that every region has its distinctive cultures and habits. If you feel we bengalees have certain shortcomings, act not just mimic from others. And the change starts with you….always.
    Not into that, I was just wondering about how GB is trying to find an answer to Singur and Nandigram issue from such a viewpoint. I repeat once again that such issues has a global appeal and its futile to discuss these on the local or regional cultural influence. So in the light of my econo-political understanding, I fail to understand your “differetn perspective” to blame the ‘bong passion’ for such issues once again. At least the present global scenario of micro-economics does not support any such passion. The way you are trying to separate the issue, you know that such protests are not new in history and does not restricts with in the boundaries of bengal only. Perticularly taking about Nandigram, what gave Nandigram a special place is not only the farmer’s protest against the SEZ or the intellectual movement to glorify the economic issue (this has happened many a times in history, also in Singur) but the response of common man to a genocide attack on innocent people in a so called democratic state. Its a rare occasion in a democratic state the the administration differentiated its people into “our people” and “their people” and sponsored terrorism against the people who did not join their camp. It is this special feature which made Nandigram famous from just being another similar SEZ problem. And here Nandigram surpassed even Singur in its brutality. None of these can be blamed on any bong passions.
    At the end, it seems you misunderstood my point of blaming CPM for the issue concerned in the article. My point was the present industrial degradation in WB, which was once sonar bangla (the same passion you see!) is solely because of mis-management of resources and opportunities of the CPM led govt. An able leader always drags his men towards new dawn. Look at Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. What Naidu YSR did for his poor farmers. We have to learn a lot.
    Lastly, if I am to finish with something to the theme of the article, I will say only that theres nothing wrong in remembering your glorious past. In fact it gives you inspiration and drive to improve. This is where we perhaps need to concentrate. The words: to improve. Stop finding out other’s mistakes and trying to do better. Then I believe you need not blame any passion. Let it start from us and from today.

  171. DH,
    There you hit the Bulls-eye! When you say ‘The Bong Passion is not a subject of current affairs’ I do agree with you! Currently whatever is happening is result of Polictical seasoning.
    Also I should speak less since I agree with you again when you said ‘But let us honestly agree that really we are also bearing the same passion of selfishness and discussing shortcomings of others every moment and it is out of that passion that we are leaving our scribes here’.
    But the only thing I am afraid is that when you say that ‘At least the present global scenario of micro-economics does not support any such passion.’ but then why do I still see such heinous acts in our state driven and influnced directly by such passion. May be you are right to some extent, but….
    I conclude up by agreeing with you without any reservation on this point of yours ‘The words: to improve. Stop finding out other’s mistakes and trying to do better.’

  172. Respected Sir,

    I am sending my cv in attachment file. Also i am intersted to join in your company. So plz find the cv.

    Thanks & regards,

    Sudip Banerjee
    9990285848

    Curriculum Vitae

    Sudip Banerjee
    Vill-Dighara
    PO-Dattapukur
    PS-Ashoknagar
    Dist-24 Parganas (N)
    WEST BENGAL
    PIN-743248
    GSM-09831656035/09990285848
    Email Id- sudip_banerjee87@rediffmail.com

    Experiences

    Having 1years exp as a Logistics Supervisor.

    Presently Working -

    1. CROSSROAD Logistics Pvt Ltd.
    (Bharti Airtel Project) 1st NOV 06 – 15th NOV 07
    Kolkata

    2. MICROMAX Informatics Ltd. 20th NOV 07 – Till Now
    Delhi

    Ware house Supervisor
    It is one of reputed Logistics Company which East Regional office is in Kolkata And Head office
    is in Delhi. It provides the service to Bharti Airtel ,Reliance, Motorola.TATA BSNL,and Dish net.

    Ware house Supervisor
    It is one of reputed Informatics Company Head office is in Delhi It provides the service to Bharti Airtel, Idea and Dish net.

    Responsibility –

    Supervising FWP & FCT of BHARTI AIRTEL LTD. Kolkata. Stock counting & monthly stock audit. Coordinating with C&F for local transport & billing. Day-To-Day reconciliation & handling the customer. Interact with costumer for Prepaid & Postpaid both.

    Responsibility –

    Supervising FWP & FCT of BHARTI AIRTEL LTD & IDEA. All INDIA Stock counting & monthly stock audit. Coordinating with C&F for ALL INDIA Courier & billing. Day-To-Day reconciliation & handling the customer. Interact with costumer for Prepaid & Postpaid both.

    Computer Skills
    Basic cores
    Inter Net. WIMS (Warehouse Inventory Management System)
    ATS (Assets Managements System)

    Education

    • Passed Secondary Examination from Dattapukur Mahesh VidyapitHigh School (2002).
    • Passed Higher Secondary Examination from Dattapukur Mahesh Vidyapit(2004).
    • Complete B.COM 1st Year from Barasat College, Kolkata in the year 2005.

    Personal Information

    Fathers Name :- Sri Sukhamoy Bannerjee.

    Date Of Birth :- 3rd march 1987.

    Religion :- Hindu

    Marital Status :- Unmarried

    Language Known :- Bengali, Hindi

    Other Information

    Salary Drawn :- Negotiable.
    Notice Period :- One week.

    Reference:

    Date.

    Place. Sudip Banerjee

  173. Hey hey Sudip Banerjee,

    Why write your date of birth, marital status, father’s name or religion on your CV? Its different from a passport application.

    Wow GB. Congrats. Did not know that you started your own company. :)

  174. People often says that Bengalis lacks entrepreneurship ability….i fully agree that as compare to Marwaris, Bengalis are behind but this quality I believe is inherent and will take some time to change….for example Marwaris by root they are from far west and travel miles to get their foods which otherwise scarce …Bengalis on the other hand are used to live in plenty…I means their movement is restricted to some meters, as they live in plenty…..their way of living also reflects the same. Other reasons for this is, the risk taking ability which is inculcated by their parents…when I was a kid I always used to ask my parents why cant I play while its raining …my mother used to tell me everything from fallin ill till a injection to stop me but my friend who happens to be a Gujarati always did that and encouraged by their parents…..same thing I noticed while choosing my subjects..most of out parents guide us to take Science and Commerce is something which is for those who are not so intellect. But look at the cut-offs in western cities commerce is the most demanded subject…even when I did the same from a reputed college in pune I found cut-off for commerce is 84% as compare to Science 75%….this scenario is changing fast but yes it will take some time for our parents to understand as most of the Bengali Youth now thinking like I do..and live in a different world ..where we have to fight for every penny …..so we say ourselves TRUE INDIANS BY NATURE-BENGALI BY HEART

  175. Pingback: Run Tata Run at Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind

  176. 1. Famous Hindu mathematicians, poets, and philosophers:

    Aryabhatta (Kerala), Aryabhatta (Bihar), Bhaskara (Andhra), Brahmagupta (Gujarat), Susruta (North), Panini (Punjab), Kalidas (MP), Tansen (MP), Baiju Bawra (MP), Jayadeva (Orissa), Guru Nanak (Punjab), Buddha (Bihar), Mahavira (Bihar), Vatsyayana (Gujarat), Kabir (UP), Soordas (UP), Amir Khusrau (MP), Ramanuja (Tamil Nadu), Adi Shankara (Kerala), Mirabai (Rajasthan), Tulsidas (UP).

    NOT EVEN ONE FAMOUS BENGALI!

    2. Famous Indian kings and emperors:

    Ashoka (Bihar), Chandragupta Maurya (Bihar), Samudragupta (UP), Bimbisara (Bihar), Raja Raja Chola (Tamil), Akbar (Delhi), Krishna Deva Raya (Karnataka), Tipu Sultan (Andhra), Shivaji (Maharashtra), Kanishka (North India), Prithviraj Chauhan (Rajasthan), Vikramaditya (MP), Rani Lakshmiba of Jhansi (MP), Rajendra Chola (Tamil), Harsha (Haryana), Zamorin (Kerala), Ranjit? Singh (Punjab).

    NOT EVEN ONE PROMINENT MONARCH FROM BENGAL!

    3. Famous Indian battles:

    Kurukshetra (Haryana),? Panipat (Haryana), Haldi Ghati (Rajasthan), Pataliputra (Bihar), Puru-Alexander (Punjab), Vijayanagar-Bahmani (Andhra-Karnataka), Ashoka-Kalinga (Orissa).

    NOT ONE SITE IN BENGAL!

    4. Ancient Indian religious and philosophical centers:

    Varanasi (UP), Tirupati (Tamil Nadu), Haridwar (Uttarakhand), Nashik (Maharashtra), Ujjain (MP), Dwarka (Gujarat), Puri (Orissa), Prayag (UP), Mathura (UP), Ayodhya (UP), Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu), Gaya (Bihar).

    BUT NOT A SINGLE ANCIENT CITY FROM? BENGAL!

    5. Classical Dances in India:

    Bharatanatyam (Tamil), Odissi (Orissa), Kuchipudi (Andhra), Manipuri (North East), Mohiniaattam (Kerala), Sattriya (Assam), Kathakali (Kerala), Kathak (Hindi states).

    BUT NOT A SINGLE CLASSICAL DANCE FROM BENGAL!

    6a. Ancient UNESCO world heritage sites:

    Mahabodhi (Bihar), Hampi (Karnataka), Ellora (Maharashtra), Ajanta (Maharashtra), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Konarak (Orissa), Khajuraho (MP).

    6b. Medieval UNESCO world heritage sites:

    Qutb Minar (Delhi),? Taj Mahal (UP), Red Fort (Delhi).

    6c. Majestic palaces and forts:

    Lake palace, Udaipur (Rajasthan), Amber Fort (Rajasthan), Gwalior Fort (MP), Hawa Mahal (Rajasthan), Jantar Mantar (Delhi, Rajasthan).

    6c. Ancient universities and monasteries:

    Nalanda (Bihar), Taxila (Punjab/Pak), Ratnagiri (Orissa), Sanchi Stupa (MP), Vikramashila (Bihar).

    BUT NOT A SINGLE MONUMENT IN BENGAL!

    Bengalis are 15-20% of the entire population of South Asia. Yet they accomplished NOTHING until the British came and gifted them with Kolkata city and modern education. Bengal profited from British invasion when the rest of India was ruined. All Kolkata monuments are British gifts: Victoria memorial, Howrah bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Esplanade, etc.

  177. What a load of stale facts which is well known to every educated (and even the non-educated) Bengali.

    The author is probably one of the hard core CPM who has been enlisted to turn the tide of anti-CPM feeling by deifying Buddhadeb who has been given the task of the last-ditch ploy to turn the tsunami by implementing the ‘land reform scheme’ before 2011

    If B. was that great, why does he not quit the CPM and join TMC?
    Nobody can deny that he is one of the very few who really means well for Bengal.

    However fully knowing the fact that the present failure is due to his party’s ‘Anti-industry’ policy in Bengal, does he have the strength of character to root out the poison by completely cutting off all ties with them and going independent or siding with Madam M?

    No. He will not. That is because he fears for his own safety and secondly is his fundamental leftist mindset where he thinks that even after so many years of misrule, CPM is the party of, for and by the people.

    A leopard will not change his spots.

    Let’s go down a route of sheer fantasy…….
    I wonder what would happen if he resigned from the party and wanted to join TMC who, as is evident, has the overwhelming support of the people he thinks he loves.

    Mamata would have the biggest blow to her credibility and leadership.

    Neither could she spurn this well respected and understood person, but may also be expected to offer him the CM’s seat. A landslide win for TMC and the best guy for the best job where the cancerous CPM mindset has been surgically removed.

    No. All these ravings can only be from a man who is raving bonkers.

    However TMC is not an end in itself (B. listen!). In Bengal there is a saying that you need a thorn to remove a thorn. So M the thorn would after winning her coveted position have to rein in all her followers and go through a period of self-introspection. I wonder whether she would be up to it.

    One thing is practical, after decades we need to take one poison out at a time.

    Yours etc.,
    A stupidly unrealistic and naive guy who has gone completely insane.

  178. bengalis they do not have unity in kolkata on anywhere in college days practically i have seen biahris r dominating bengalis bengalis r coward they do not have unity if they r in majority but in their blood in their culture their father mother never taught us about bong culuture boss all bengali gals in majority try to keep afffair with non bengaliss yy u c shusmita sen or koena mitra or bipasha basuuu heyy we m arwaris have unty cammon accept the truth

  179. @bengal

    no doubt you are an irrational iq deluded humanistic moron-aryabhatta was born in west of india.rest of those names u have taken may or may not be bengali-because these ethnic differentiation was not present till british came.they divided india by ethnicity.

    now u hypocrite had mentioned best of india-here is the best of asia in different field

    in literature-tagore the most globally traveled literally genius of all time and the only person in the world to compose 3 national anthem of india,srilanka,bangladesh.

    in scince-the most renowned scientist from eastern world in west today-jc bose and sn bose.the latter whose work had given 9 persons nobel,latest being in 2001 when 3 won for bec-and sn bose is regarded one of all time great in various ranking.even japan had not produced anyone with class of sn bose from asia.

    test tube baby pioneer dr subhas mukherjee-whose work won nobel in 2010 by british physician edwards but subhas mukherjee died in 1981.

    with 3 genuine science nobel being missed by jc bose for radio,sn bose,subhas mukherjee-but still calcutta has more nobel oscar,grammy than any other city from entire asia.

    will i have to talk about one of top 10 movie director satyajit roy,ravishankar or his daughter norah jones…actually ur rest of india will take more than 100(or may be 1000)years to match all these luminaries what calcutta had produced(yeah in 4 different category as asia’s first nobel-ross,tagore,sen,raman).

    @raj

    ur partially right-but you intellect deluded marwaris are always partially correct-it’s the non bengali guys who jump over bengali girls.when i was outside bengal,almost every non bengali students asked me about bengali girls and how they could manage one of them.we bengali boys don’t give a damn to any girls(specially to any non bengali),rather we excel in creative field.

    so the author is not insane,all you semi literate dick head jackass(off course intellect and knowledge deluded)are very much jealous about bengal and showing ur utter stupidity and insanity in internet.

    here someone from outside world and one of the leading journalist say about calcutta-jonathan power-oh calcutta-the past and future.

Have An Opinion? Type Away

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s