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Calcutta Corner
This week the union defence ministry received military intelligence alerting it of two neighbouring countries’ interest in the movement for Gorkhaland...
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Foreign Hand  

It has been an open secret but now it has come to the fore. The suspicion that the agitation in Darjeeling is being fed by one if not two foreign neighbours is not a new one. But this week the union defence ministry received military intelligence alerting it of these neighbouring countries’ interest in the movement for Gorkhaland. There has long been suspicion of the movement of armed Maoists from Nepal through its porous border with India. This week there have been reports of protests in front of the Indian commission in Kathmandu. An urgent meeting between a defence ministry team and senior Army officers supervising the India-China border in the northeast also took place earlier this week.

No Poribortan Here

Relations between West Bengal and its other neighbour Bangladesh had become tense after WB chief minister Mamata Banerjee came in the way of the Indian government’s plan to sign an agreement with Bangladesh about sharing of the Teesta River. She insisted on the right of the states— especially in this case her own state of West Bengal— being an integral part of the decision-making process. Last time she accused the central government of not discussing all the details with her before attempting to rush into an agreement. This week, once again, she nipped in the bud a UPA government attempt to formalize a land-sharing agreement with Bangladesh. After Mamata intervened on behalf of the states insisting that states’ consent was mandatory before signing any land agreement with neighbouring countries, the UPA government could not introduce a bill to bring constitutional amendment about land boundaries.

Satyameva Jayate

Actor-Filmmaker-Producer Aamir Khan has lent his famous name to the fight against crime— especially crimes against women— in Bengal by espousing the cause of the Kamduni rape and murder victim. Expressing solidarity with the villagers of Kamduni who are keeping alive the fight for justice (a delegation comprising Kamduni villagers went to Delhi and met President Pranab Mukherjee asking for justice and punishment of the criminals), Khan has decided to bring up the episode in his popular serial Satyameva Jayate. A three-member team from the crew of the series came to Kamduni to film the episode on July 30. This week, Khan invited a group to be present at the Mumbai studio during the screening of the episode. They include, tentatively, one of the victim’s teachers, her brother and her friends from the village, who have been on the forefront of the fight for justice.

With the Flow  

It’s that time of year when Calcutta starts resembling Venice. The streets look like rivers. Cars move around like speedboats if not gondolas. Though the incessant rain has brought much happiness to city dwellers after days of unbearable heat it has also brought an equal measure of harassment. The perpetual problem of waterlogged streets continues to plague the city as it does every Monsoon. And the city’s population continues to perform the miracle of virtually walking on water or at least wading through knee-hip-chest-neck (depending on which part of the city you are in) to go about their daily business as if nothing has happened. The Bengali bhadralok still ambles to the fish market with a smile on his face as he haggles about the price of hilsa. Sure, the bottom of his white pyjamas maybe just a little wetter and muddier than usual. The Bengali boumas still venture out in throngs to do some early Puja shopping at Gariahat Market. So what if they have to hold aloft their shopping bags in mid air with one hand and hike their saris up knee high to cross the busy intersection? The Monsoons may turn Calcutta’s streets into rivers but the city sure knows how to go with the flow.

Shades of Grey

One of the best Bengali movies playing in Calcutta theatres today is Alik Sukh, directed jointly by Shibprasad Mukhopadhyay and Nandita Roy. Based on the story by Suchitra Bhattacharya, this is a poignant delineation of the kind of medical negligence our country is exposed to today. The plot revolves around a Calcutta gynaecologist who is as sought after as he is inaccessible. He is also a devoted husband and father. His dilemma as he is caught between his professional and personal duties and the choices he makes determine what is moral and immoral. There is a thin line between good and evil, black and white. And it is our ability to navigate the grey areas that constitutes life’s directions. The characterization is spot-on with real people, experiencing real pain, real problems, real dilemma. Debshankar Haldar shines as the gynaecologist (but then he always does— though he is mostly a stage actor).

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