In Praise of Bandhs

What the hell is wrong with Mamata Banerjee? First she calls for a 48 hour Bandh and then postpones it (at least she has not cancelled it) taking into account the entreaties of her Christian brothers !

Postponing a bandh? What kind of lunacy is that? Don’t people understand that the bandh needed to be on 21st (Thursday), 22nd (Friday) so that with the weekend (23rd and 24th) and Christmas (25th) we would have a really really long weekend ? Why is noone thinking about the people who made advance plans based on the prospect of this “Bandh Break” —who will compensate them for their loss? [Left: Picture (from Times of India) of protesting Trinamool hunks]

The situation can only be salvaged if the strike be postponed to 26th and 27th which in hindsight may be even better because then Kolkatans, in addition to having five uninterrupted days of leisure, will also be able to watch comeback kid Dada bat in South Africa for the Boxing Day Test.

Here’s my point. I just love Bandhs. Maybe because that is because I grew up among them during the high-noon of the great Jyoti Basu empire and the ascent of his arch nemesis Mamata: both of whom sought to win over the hearts of the people by stopping all work.

I recollect fondly those days. The streets would be empty, bereft of the bustle of traffic. With no cars around, the roads would be converted into temporary cricket pitches with us neighbourhood boy playing BBC or Big Bandh Cricket. The smell of home-cooked food would waft through the corridors. Relatives who lived nearby would walk over for some tea and chanachoor. And then there would be the evening news where one party would congratulate the people for “spontaneously supporting the bandh call” (despite the fact that there were some lathi-and-stone-wielding “dada”s standing at road crossings just in case there were slippages in spontaneity ) and the other party would congratulate the people for “rejecting the bandh call”. Spontaneously that is.

And as night fell and we were tucked into bed, we prayed to Mamata-didi and Jyoti-dadu for the next bandh to come as soon as possible.

After all, what’s more fun than pressing the Pause button on work?

Of course even then, there were a handful of people (mostly the daddy/grand-daddy generation) who would go on and on about how bad these bandhs were for the economy of the state, how these bandhs hastened the flight of industrial capital from Bengal and how people who needed urgent medical care were severely inconvenienced but really who cared for sick people and sick states? Not us. As long as we got bat on ball, the world was fine. And shame on WTO and the Congress government while we are at it.

Though while we did not know it then, I can safely say today that it was the Bandh culture that gave Sourav Ganguly vital time away from his student life to practice those sublime off-side shots. As a matter of fact if we had more such strikes and Ganguly was able to devote more time to his cricket, then perhaps he would have been a fielder like Kaif and as severe on the short ball as Gilchrist.

And then once I joined Jadavpur University, I learnt more about the intellectual underpinnings of the Bandh from the true Bandh gurus also known as the Bandhopadhyay-s (Bandh=strike Upadhyay= teacher). They made me understand why a class boycott (co-incidentally just before a class test) would reduce the oppression on farmers in Guatemala and how a half-day strike and petition to the Vice Chancellor on Sourav Ganguly’s unfair exclusion from the team in Toronto would change the parochial policies of the Board.

When I asked them why we needed to stop those willing to attend classes from doing what they wanted to do, they explained to me that there are some inherently “selfish” students who come to college to study only.

Which is a big crime.

How can you be a student and not be affected by the suffering of the multitude, they asked? And how can you express that angst without gheraoing the Vice-Chancellor or doing a sit-in in front of the gates? As a matter of fact, it is the solemn duty of selfless students like us to show these inward-looking geeks the path to revolution and self-sacrifice by stopping them from getting education—-which we all know is the tool of the imperialist.

Though initially I found this a bit tough to understand, the more I contemplated their astute logic while standing in the serpentine queue to see “Disclosure” along with many other protesting, bleeding-heart, selfless “Har-tal Pe Tal Mila” revolutionaries, the more convinced I became.

But that was long ago. After Jadavpur, I came to US. I got fat. I got a PhD. My life changed in oh-so-many ways. But scarcely do my eyes close than memories of those glorious days of supine struggle sweep over me like the water from a clogged cistern: the tranquillity, the one-drop-one-hand catches, the silence and most importantly the warm, fuzzy, exalted feel-good that comes from wasting your time for the benefit of others.

Bandh hain Mataram !

51 thoughts on “In Praise of Bandhs

  1. Greatbong, if you don’t fall you line, very soon Didi will call for a hartal of your blog too.

    “Bandh hain Mataram !” – Priceless 🙂

  2. Oops, I meant
    Greatbong, if you don’t fall in line, very soon Didi will call for a hartal of your blog too.

    “Bandh hain Mataram !” – Priceless 🙂

  3. Superb point Greatbong. But maybe you were in a hurry writing this. The typos are just not you. And do you really want to use ‘raft’ there – or is it a typo on ‘waft’? Sorry for this. Please don’t take offense. I’m just a well-wisher and an admirer of your writing.

  4. In Calcutta you enjoyed Bandhs and in Varanasi we enjoyed curfew.

    Atleast in WB you have a better CM now while all we UP guys can look forward to is Mulayam after Mayawati and Mayawati after Mulayam. Atleast Mayawati was better in the sense that your life was worth more then 5000 Rs.

    Hopelessness prevails and as I work in US/Hyderabad, I wonder will I ever be able to go back and open my Ganga kinare wala restaurent without getting a midnight ransom call from a goon.


    And yeah, minus the cribbing, spot on post GB.

  5. And har-tal pe tal mila is just a touch of genius.

  6. LOL ! I have fond recollections of playing street-cricket during bandh too. In fact as a kid, I used to to think that bandhs were part of the annual holiday schedule just like Durga Pujo.

    The funny thing though was that even if a Congress-called bandh was successful, Ganashatru (West Bengal’s very own Pravda), would print a picture of a busy Esplanade intersection from a different day showing how people ‘defied’ the strike !

  7. “Mamata Bandh-Upadhyay” – Excellent !!!!
    I think there should be a law that the Choice to participate in Bandhs should be personal, and it would be a crime to enforce it. But given the perks (like Cricket, food and feast .. as you said) it’s difficult for me to resist.

  8. @Asterix: Come home and find a few Trinamool supporters blocking my laptop.

    @RJ: Thanks

    @Prateek:Thanks for pointing that out. It should have been waft. However I do have a few typos here and there most of the time (I know because I have often corrected old posts) and I am grateful if readers could point them out.

    @An Ideal Boy: And what is a Bandh but a People’s Curfew?

    @Prateek: Thank you

    @BongoP’o’ndit: That newspaper was something else !!! With all its pages pasted on roadside bulletin boards, it was the first newspaper that went “online” even before the Internet.

    @Amit: Crime to enforce? What enforce? Spontaneous it is….trust me.

  9. I was one of the privileged few to witness one of the bandhs during my short three week stay in Kolkata. What (pleasantly) surprised me even then was how the bandhs are usually on a friday or a monday so that people get to enjoy a long weekend. And perhaps nowhere in the country are people so willing to heed the call for bandh as they are in Kolkata. A bandh means a bandh. total lockdown. Nobody opens their shops. Kids start practicing their off-side shots on the streets which were chock full of ambassadors just a day previously.

    Truly unique politicians kolkata has been blessed with (thank god for that part atleast).

  10. greatbong da, lets start a bandh party in the US. You should obviously be the president, i would be happy with just the post of a treasurer or secretary. Lets say we call a bandh on the 8th of january which will coincidentally be the day that we have our classes beginning after the break. we will be thinking up of any possible cause for the bandh sometime later.

  11. Hehe – I enjoyed some bandhs myself, most notably in my college years at Hubli. Now for some goddamn reason hubli lawyers wanted the some kind of High court to be shifted from bangalore to Hubli.

    And thanks to Lawyers bhook-hadtal and what nots, our engineering college remained closed. Not for 1 day. Not for 1 week. But for 1 month. Enough to postpone our exams by further 2 months and allow us more time for merrymaking.

    Needless to say, it was the most enjoyable. I don’t recall though whatever happened to Lawyers, High Court and all after that month. Maybe everyone lost interest 😀


  12. We were hoping that no classes would be held on Thursday and friday but then the bandh was postponed and we had to go to the lectures. Can we sue Trinmool for the mental harrassment that it caused us. There should be a law in that once bandh is announced it cannt be called off/postponed.

  13. Fond surely are the Bond-memories of those Jyoti days. Am glad that someone finally got around to lauding the Lady who is fighting a lone battle to uphold our traditions and values. After all, work’s for losers. We do only “kaal-chaar”.

    If only those Prafulla Sarkar Street diwmits would understand and stopped cribbing!

  14. @Bongopondit – did you mean Ganashakti? Ganashatru is the Ray movie. Ganashakti back in the 80s used to be edited by Anil Biswas who became a CPM bigshot (& died recently). I recall reading them pasted on a board waiting for a bus at Gariahat 🙂

    @GB – Thanks for taking me back to those days. When I was a kid, living in the still-sylvan Ballygunge Circular Road, Bandh-Day Cricket was big. But you had to buy the tennis balls (or those super bouncy dunlap balls, allegedly made by melting car tyres) in advance because shops would be closes that day. Once, we saw this mob running towards us creating halla. We immediately ran to one side, but one of the mob picked up our sole stump (those were the days before hawkeye) to go after a poor storekeeper who had kept his shutter half down (or half up) & enforce the will of the people. That stump belonged to my best friend Saurabh, who mother didn’t let him come out & play that morning & so he had entrusted it to me. With a misplaced sense of responsibility, I ran after the guy till the rest of the mob thought I was one of their Hitlerjugend. Anyway after about 100 yards, the uncooperative dukandaar saw the light & the stump-stealer threw away the weapon with what Bong novelists have called ‘tachhiller haashi’ (contemptuous smile). I picked up this very valuable piece of equipment & trudged back to join my mates who were at that point nitpicking over petty details of my obituary. That was my 15 minutes of fame in my childhood days…

  15. Simon Bhattacharyya December 22, 2006 — 3:14 am

    Funny as this post may be these ‘spontaneous bandhs’ are one horrible tyranny on the business clas of Bengal. The entire economy grinds to a halt and millions are lost in missed production and lost deals.

    This is just part of a conspiracy the CPM has to destroy Bengal & then india. sometimes i think these Indian reds are basically stooges of China or some external rival doing their best to hurt us.

    First thing they did when they came to power was to stop English education in primary schools in Bengal. This irrational insane step practically destroyed generations of Bengali youth and made Bengalis slide backwards compared to any other state.

    The CPM has comitted a crime on a scale not seen before in modern Indian history.

    *************[Edited by GB: Dear Simon, I am sorry if I appear ultra-sensitive but this line was borderline hate-speech and we don’t need that here, do we ? Hence the edit of this one line.]

  16. Coming from Kerala, I could fully identify with this post…. We (Mallus) are not so much different…

  17. “Bandh Teacher”… I still cant stop laughing….
    Awesome as usual !!!.. Am completely hooked onto this site now…

  18. Damn! Arnabda, you make me jealous. I have grown up in Allahabad and the people there are bovinely indifferent towards bandhs. Be it an Allahabad bandh, an UP bandh, or a Bharat bandh, called by Congress, or BJP or by anybody else, the Allahabadis never showed any spontaneity. My only memory of bandhs is when at the end of a vacation in Kolkata, we would try to return to Allahabad, dadu or didi’s party will try to prevent us from leaving with all their might. Amazing hospitality that is. How many of us want to retain a guest who has been staying for over a month?

    Another thing… did you notice that the rail rokos et al are organised in winter, when sitting on the tracks in the sun is quite comfortable. This way the tiring summers become more tiring due to lack of bandhs. I have a suggestion: that summers should be used for Metro rail rokos as the stations are airconditioned (unfortunately the participants can’t sit on the tracks there).

    @Tipu: I’m sure Bongopondit called Ganashakti Ganashatru deliberately. We always used to call that paper by that name! I was quite surprised that other people do so too.

  19. Bandh-upadhyaya – brilliant!
    @Simon: “sometimes i think these Indian reds are basically stooges of China or some external rival doing their best to hurt us.”

    Or maybe they just want us to have a more equitable society, even if a lot less efficient? Efficiency at the cost of equity isn’t necessarily good for the society. At any rate, what do we do with all that efficiency anyway? In the last 15 years we have liberalised the economy and become much more efficient than we were. Fat lot of good it has done to our lives though. If you don’t even get an unexpected Bandh break when you can play cricket on the streets, what good is such life for?

  20. GB at his sarcastic best….too good……

  21. “They made me understand why a class boycott (co-incidentally just before a class test) would reduce the oppression on farmers in Guatemala and how a half-day strike and petition to the Vice Chancellor on Sourav Ganguly’s unfair exclusion from the team in Toronto would change the parochial policies of the Board.” LOL

    Sometimes I feel envious not to have done my engg from JU…you guys must have had such a great time…besides those strikes before exams… attendance percentages….could smoke or dope on campus,even in front of faculty……..have sex with the arts dept dames beside the jheel and what not.

    As usual, very nice satire. 🙂

  22. Brilliant post Arnab! I still remember the blast we had during the Rajkumar-kidnapped-by-veerappan-bandh and the Babri-masjid-demolition-bandh. Schools and colleges were closed, so that meant more movies at home and more public property destroyed outside. What fun!

  23. GB, how can you be so irresponsible and blame didi for postponing the bandh??

    Didi se le kar Amma tak nobody has done anything wrong. It is their birth right to stop the public (people who need to earn a living) from being productive. It is the judiciary that is violating their secular right to stop everyone from working, irrespective of cast creed or religon. And once they try to live again…that is just because of the excellent “spirit” of the city that the politicians were looking for and found while they dig up every possible road in your city!!

  24. who will compensate them for their loss?

    No kidding. Bandhs, by definition, can not be postponed. I am in kolkata after two and half years and was just starting to feel at home with five bandhs in a month. Now it all feels so alien. Flyovers, Inox, IT, malls, Rajarhat, apartments worth 2 crores – I can handle, but bandh- recall is way too non-bengali. What excuse do I have now for not visiting mashipishis and watching cricket on Ten Sports?

  25. YOURFAN writes:
    @GB: Again excellent post. Do you know the reason why the protestors are without shirts? Didi feebly (because of fasting) announced that men will be protesting with no shirt on because the govt is stripping the public(‘janosadharan ke ulango kore dichche’)!! At the same time there was this announcement that ladies are barred to join this protest!!!! Good lord, then can you guess what would have happened!!! Can you guess how many starving souls were deprived of their ‘mental meals’?

  26. time to call a bandh to protest against bandhs???

  27. I have faced about 3-4 bandhs in mumbai during the first 21 years of my life whilst being raised dere. No bandh in Mumbai is successful till it is called/supported by the Shiv Sena. It used to be fun playing cricket on the streets. But unfortunately for us, bandhs used to be very rare and if at all wouldnt extend beyond 6 hours.

  28. True – life has totally changed after I moved to Mumbai … no noble causes (like oppression of farmers in Guatemala to support!!

    “… sex with art dept dames by the jheel …”

    ummmm, as far as I know, the success rate of engg students with art dept dames was never high … forget high, it was hardly ever good …. that is, in my time, which would be about 3-4 years before GB …. and I am sure the strike rate hasn’t improved during his time either, or even in the later years.

  29. GB, thank you for a nostalgic trip down memory lane for people like me who grew up in Calcutta. Ah! those were the days. ‘Bangla bandh safal karun’ ( make the strike a success) used to be the rallying cry of the leaders of various political hues . 🙂 A bandh called by the ruling party led by the redoubtable Jyoti Basu was always the best as it ensured total closure . The opposition sponsored one led by Mamata Banerjee came a close second with the only eyesore being a few near-empty state buses plying in the morning.
    Ofcourse ‘Didi’ use to be a formidable power to reckon with in those days and not the sad caricature she has reduced herself to now.

  30. Ma Kasam Badla Loonga December 22, 2006 — 2:23 pm

    Ah…the sad tale of braindrain….

  31. How can a ruling party call a bandh 🙂

  32. I have to agree with pradeep we mallus aren’t that far behind bongs when it comes to bandh. We’d stand shoulder to shoulder with bongs at least in this case. I think it would be tough match to see who has more bandh’s in a year or the silliest reason for a bandh.

  33. I still remember the protest against Saurav’s exclusion in Toronto. It were reporters from Aajkaal who came to campus,ask the guys to pose,shout slogans and then print photos next day. That was when Anandbazar and Aajkaal were trying to outdo each-other in Saurav’s coverage. I remember the case too well because in the DSF meeting that followed we were blasted for not preventing this idiotic display. DSF never associated itself with all these non-political issues. And DSF was proud of it.

    But about the other allegations…..first I thought of debating with you about what you said about Jadavpur…but then again decided not to. Afterall you have taken your comedian’s liberty to add elements of imagination to your version of the story. Maybe class-boycott you are talking about happened during the agitation in 99 ( I had left JU in 98 ). Do you also remember what level of brutality CPI-M retorted to ? The then DSF GS’s house in Santoshpur was ransacked, his brother was beaten black-n-blue. Luckily for him the GS was in JU hostel at that time. But not all were that lucky. One guy who had been in forefront of protest on his way to the college from JU hostel, was abducted and found half-dead after 3 days near DumDum airport. He had multiple fractures in different bones but no marks of beatings was found on his body. His attackers had used rubber tubes …talk of scientific rigging…I can tell you what scientific beating can be. The guy was in hospital for about 2-3 months , when his fractures healed. But the trauma, I think it will last a lifetime. I’d never liked Mamta and her B brand of CPI-M politics that had no agenda except for her own craziness. We had kicked her chelas out when they came to JU to join our protests against CPI-M, for we knew she never was rallying for our cause but for her political mileage. But when I heard of Tapasi’s case, for me it was a deja-vu. CPI-M wants to send the signal loud and clear – Don’t protest against our ways…If you do…You should be aware of the consequences.

    But with your sharp sense of humor you can make people laugh at these incident as when you give imaginary accounts of protests for farmers in Guetimala.Carry on GreatBong…people are clapping…and will keep on clapping…till they come face-to-face with similar situations. Then I would like to see with what sense is the sense of humor is replaced. My bet is it would be “Sense of Chacha Apna Jaan Bacha”

  34. @Tintin: To be honest, there is not much to do except “heed” the call.

    @Rudresh: Shirtless Trinamool supporters standing on the I-495 and blocking traffic..

    @Suyog: One month ! Wow.

    @Vaibhav: I think you can sue for unacceptable delay of service.

    @Gogol: And our kaltaar.

    @Tipu::-)….and as pointed out subsequently, I think BongoP’o’ndit did say Ganashatru intentionally.

    @Simon:True Communists do not believe in national boundaries but in a concept of universal brotherhood of all “working class” people. Which is why they are more aligned to Chinese interests than ours.

    @Pradeep: Hmm…

    @Kunal : 🙂

    @Joy Forever: You did miss out on a lot of fun…

    @Mohan and Kabaddi Kabaddi : 🙂 and thank you

    @Yourfan2: As Bonatellis pointed out, the sex with the Arts ladies was extremely rare…it was more looking at them with longing and convincing ourselves they would be “ours” when we became earning men. Yes so deluded were we.

    @Lalbadshah: Heh.

    @Gourav: Indeed it is their birthright….I just wish they would fix the date.

    @Dipanjan: 5 bandhs in a month ! Yipeeeee……

    @Yourfan: Brilliant ! I only hope that they keep their trousers/dhotis on……we do not want to see the “grassroots’ of the Trinamool supporter.

    @Anoymous: Yes why not.

    @Vinay: 6 hours? Very whimpy.

    @ Bonatellis: Indeed….horrible success rates.

    @Rima: Indeed Didi was formidable….I used to like her a lot because of her undoubted “courage” and her personal honesty….in sharp contrast to her nemesis Jyoti Basu. However she soon showed herself to be a big bag of hot air who has nothing by the way of “ideas’ except more and more outlandish theatrics.

    @Ma Kasam Badla Loonga: Eh?

    @Sam: The question is who rules? The state party calls the Band in protest against the Center….unless both are the same….there will always be Bandhs. This sometimes leads to comical situations…like when Mamata was the rail minister and was organizing a rail roko…

    @Kuttan: Indeed.

    @Bishu: My recollection of the Ganguly class boycott. It was way more than a newspaper photo-op….I remember being asked to leave the class because a protest was being organized (half-day boycott).Unlike most issues which people could not care two hoots about, this was actually something students felt they needed to protest about—-albeit in a half joking way. Incidentally I favoured Kambli over Ganguly in those days.

    Again there is the scope for massive debate here but let me be brief.

    1. What were the issues the DSF/RSA/SFI ‘agitated’ about?[Please do not mind: but I find the word ‘agitate’ a bit presumptive here].To prevent the library fee from being increased , strikes for weeks on end on an issue where most of us felt the authorities were right…higher late fees means greater incentive to return books and greater circulation of a scarce resource. But no ! The ‘dada”s had to agitate ! And what’s worse and what really pissed me off was the DSF standing in front of the Civil building and asking (rather firmly) not to enter. Even locks were put. What right did the Union “goondas’ have to prevent people who wanted to be no part of this ‘agitation’ from attending classes?

    2. I missed the part where violence between different student political wing (violence and retaliatory counter violence) became a problem for the whole student communit.? I never understood why an attack on a DSF official was an attack on every JU student—–I now understand that it is the same logic by which when Laloo Yadav gets an arrest warrant, it is a conspiracy against all Dalits by the upper classes. Student politics, as it in West Bengal is violent and if you cannot stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. But please do not try to spin student violence as ‘struggle’…on the lines of student agitation during the freedom struggle.

    3. Chacha apon jaan bacha? Every man for himself? Hmm….I remember being lectured one day by this eminent SFI leader who berated us for our fascination with the US and our desire to sell ourself to the imperialist West and how this attitude of ‘chacha apon jaan bacha’ (English: every man for himself) was something that could not expected from “awakened students”. He wasted an hour of my otherwise-worthless-time and there was not much I could do except try to stop laughing in his life (which of course I could not do, as we knew the student leaders were never too keen on “the student’s voice’ if it happened to be against them). Now when I see this guy settled in the Socialist Republic of California and coding for an evil multinational I always rememer that “chacha apon jaan bacha” line he delivered that day on the JU cricket field and unlike then, I can now laugh. Openly.

    4. Farmers of Guatamela was a poster that stayed for many many months on the board in front of FETSU (right opposite the room below the tree) and was one of the issues talked about in the larger context of GATT during one of those protest morchas on class time.

    In conclusion, I have no problem with student ‘agitations’ but I do have with forcing class-boycotts. Class boycotts, like bandhs, were not sponatenous. Many people, and you may call them selfish, wanted to attend class to suck up to their teachers and get good grades. Nothing wrong with that—you may criticize that attitude but you have no right to prevent those who want to follow that path. Let me state that for me, Bandhs were fun at the time and I thoroughly enjoyed them like many others but now I rue the amount of knowledge we lost (truncation of syllabi) due to those lovely days of playing tennis ball cricket and flocking to New Empire.

  35. fcukin mamta’s been a pain in d ass… d state will never progress as long as she does… hey greatbong i love ur posts and been a regular reader. Jus did a Krrish review (read urs long time back). Would like to know what u think of my review on Krrish at my blog if u do get time 2 read. Lookin forward to ur future reviews (Dhoom 2’s review was jus as good)

  36. YOURFAN writes:
    @GB:Your comments are as hilarious as your main posts. I don’t have a dirty mind but from now on any time I hear the word grassroots your explanation of the word shall pop up in my mind and people will wonder about my sanity or lack of compassion for the grassroot workers!!!

  37. I wish i was in JU.Good post.When these parties call for bandh why do they leave journalist out of it.They are also part of working class and there product is bought by people.

  38. I understand in today’s world the right to strike or ‘bandh’ has been ridiculed (by the likes of Mamata)….but please refrain from demeaning that right…People over the ages have fought against oppression and the ‘bandh’ has been a powerful weapon.

    I really don’t how much ur boycotting classes would have meant in terms of materialistic help to Guatemala farmers but I guess I know what wld have made the difference – a small report may be even on the second last page of the morning daily saying that students of a prestigious university like JU codemn such an oppression. What I guess, u fail to realise is the prestige that soceity grants you when you are a student of such universities….

    I remember, during the war on Iraq, we were students in Delhi, we came out and protested…u may say what happened… the war took place…I, who had screamed anti-imperialist slogans, now work for a US based company ….but still I think I made a difference….Everyone of us might not be able to stand up always for all the ideals that we beleive in …..but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have them at all….whenever I see an oppurtunity I will choose to be a part of the movement….I will, at laest, try to give back to soceity ..what it gave me …..

    Guess it might seem all harebrained idealism to you …but leave some people with power to imagine…….

  39. awesome writeup….ya these bandh’s bring me some warm childhood memories

  40. Great Bong,
    Great write-up and great memories. However one abiding memory I have of the Bangla bandh was when this chap was gunned down by indiscriminate police firing near Gariahat more. It was shown on live television, and the way the guy just staggered and fell….it was my first experience seeing people being killed this way. And the height was when he died, there was a clammer to claim the guy to be their own from the two political parties to gain political mileage

  41. Just reminiscing about student strikes in my old college (Presidency, early ’90s): “no class” by students on Thursday to protest against loss of studies thanks to an earlier “no class” due to non-teaching staff on Monday… pure gem!!

  42. Btw, wonderful puns.

    In my Dec. trip spanning 5 states (WB-Or-TN-Ke-Ka-WB), got to see 1st-hand the publicity (mainly -ve, outside WB) that Didi’s fast got. A serious re-think for new means of public protest is called for. Minimally invasive to normal civil life, yet purposive and articulate, styles can be effective in drawing attention of a thankful and intelligent (assumptions not made by netas/netris) public. For example, why don’t the protestors pool money to place an ad in an impartial newspaper/website? The logic and the ethic behind the protest can & should be clearly outlined. Electronic media can be utilized (eg. SMS signatures) but again the means must not be disruptive (eg. DoS attack).
    Student agitation should be strongly discouraged since the potential of student-hood, realized through composure, concentration and perseverence, is antithetical to agitation and is clearly self-destructive. The students may instead be encouraged to develop cerebral muscles (dialectics, writing critiques, using statistics and research references) as well as intellectual clarity and honesty to understand and tackle serious issues (eg. AIDS, global warming, education) and be prepared (in a well-rounded manner that never happens in Indian colleges, including the IITs) to offer future leadership if they really care.

  43. Sorry to stretch here: when I wrote that “(s)tudent agitation should be strongly discouraged since (it) is clearly self-destructive”, I may be suggesting a bourgeois solution but a very efficient one in the long run. A student, by defintion, must reserve her time and energies to her studies. No compromises here (because she can choose to agitate later in her life, but cannot to study) unless, like the Communists, one seeks to diabolically corrupt impresionable youth thus to gather a blindly faithful following. Therefore GB’s “no problem with student ‘agitations’” makes me uneasy.

    Appreciating and brainstorming broad social/scientific issues like AIDS or global warming or education while being strongly prepared for individual careers with BA or BTech or BCom in a well-rounded manner of education (eg. field trips, environmental projects, market surveys) can produce in near future conscientious CEOs, efficient clerks, kind policemen and, hopefully, fewer unscrupulous strikes and (professional) agitators.

    In this regard, see Gurcharan Das’ 16Dec TOI OpEd ‘Private virtue.’

  44. Too good…. was left in splits on reading the part about Jadavpur…. I still remember the first strike… all because the library fine had been raised from 30 to 50 paise, a heinous crime inflicted on the studious student community.
    We, the first years in our eagerness to gain knowledge were fiddling in the machine lab of electrical department…. when suddenly the union room evangelists rushed in and started threatening us with dire consequences for non compliance to the mighty cause.
    It was a rude shock… and I was devastated.
    Forward 4 years to 2005: a couple of students of FETSU, (thats the Engg Students union) had been expelled for an agitation back in 2003. The entire department was enjoying the lazy afternoon as the relay hungerstrike went on… an innovative concept where differet people were on hunger strike for about 5-6 hours each, that is till they felt hungry. How I wished I could have seen some more of those strikes and bandhs.
    I also realised that the VC had one of the most dangerous positions .. he had to face the brunt of the overzealous youth leaders.
    Its amazing the way I was transformed at JU… and how my philosophies in life gradually changed… a wonderful place, those four years will be forever etched in my memory as the best years of my life…. satyameba jayte… bandh hey mataram

  45. Bandhs helped destroy the economy of Calcutta and take it from being one of the leading lights of India to a ridiculed festering mess… thank god those days are fading and out great city has started to rise above the rubble of the past

  46. Classic GB 😀 !Just came back to the archives for some nostalgia….

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