The Railway Obsession
While everyone was speculating about what Mamata could possibly have meant when she blurted out earlier this week that General Elections would take place in just under three months and that TMC would get the Railways back again, I was wondering why on earth she would even want it back? Hasn’t she had enough? Why is she so obsessed with the Railways? In fact, she’s so possessive about it, each time she makes it to the Central government, it is assumed that she would get that portfolio. Only when she became Chief Minister of Bengal did she think of relinquishing that post, that too after much dilemma.
Even then she remote-controlled it—much like kids do to those toy trains—from Calcutta, unceremoniously removing Dinesh Trivedi, her own party member whom she herself had instituted after she resigned, for thinking for himself. During her own tenures she seemed to flag off new rail routes everyday prompting people to wonder where all these trains were coming from and where they were going and most importantly, carrying whom?
Instead of dreaming about getting the Railways back, why doesn’t Mamata just concentrate on being a Chief Minister and get Bengal back on track?
London Bridge is Falling Down
Speaking of Mamata’s dreams, at least one of them has turned into a nightmare - her dream to turn Calcutta into a London. After a huge chunk of a flyover which connects Calcutta’s busy Ultadanga area to the International Airport collapsed killing at least two people and injuring others, the local press went to town with headlines inspired by the nursery rhyme “London bridge is falling down,” clearly spoofing on Mamata’s London dreams.
The roshogolla is not completely Bengali. It is also part Portuguese. This bittersweet piece of news was broken to us at a discussion on Bengali mishtis held this week in the city which launched a website dedicated to the roshogolla. Apparently before the Portuguese arrived and told us so, we didn’t really know how to turn curdled milk into something so delicious as chhana (cottage cheese), the main ingredient of roshogolla. In fact, the Bengalis were rather snooty about their sweets and preferred the ‘sandesh’ made of kheer.
But before a Portuguese rushes to call it their own, Bengalis aver that it was indeed a Bengali who dipped the first set of chhana balls—which the British called snowballs—into a boiling cauldron of sugar syrup to get the most famous sweet in the history of Bengali sweets.
The Panchayat Polls that are supposed to take place in Bengal late next month couldn’t come at a worst time for Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra. He had to choose between a rock and a hard place: a populist budget keeping the rural voter in mind and one that would rake in some much needed revenue in to revive the barely breathing economy of this cash-strapped state. After some pondering, he seemed to have managed to strike a balance. Instead of either taxing the rich or the poor and thereby incurring the wrath of one group he increased the VAT on non-essential commodities like tobacco products.
Inspiration for the Italian Marines?
A graffiti behind an auto read: Jaabe jodi jaao, phirey eshonaa (Go if you want to but please don't come back)
The reason why Bengal is special today to me is, the idea there has always been, there doesn't need to be anything to be back on track. People speak about the problems of other states, who has thought about Bengal's problems? It appears that the Bengali does not want to mention them, or discuss them, among themselves. The whole idea is, what is interesting, not a problem. The reason why Bengal was not an 'industrious' state, was because no one wanted factories, and the CPI(M) appreciated that the Bengali society is agrarian, and didn't want to unsettle the poor and marginalised. This is notable. The CPI(M) is a party associated with heavy industry. Their workers are seen as such, perhaps. How their members accepted that new industry is no priority, is really intriguing.
But, what is heartening is that the previous C. M., had an idea, and people generally liked him, or at least, did not, refrain from opinion. What was really unfortunate about Mr. Basu's tenure as C. M., was that at one time, there was eight hours of load shedding, and no one opined anything. It's not as if Mr. Basu did not know, he was the C. M. of the 'common man', but now it dawns, the man in the village was pretty happy. The idea is, that a small village gets power, because the needs are very less, while, in Kolkata, one has to see, it might have been no priority.
Metropolises have a major problem, because manufacturing started there. Today, mega cities should have no manufacturing units in their precincts. The metropolis is supposed to be a dwelling place, and when, practically, machines are installed in dwelling regions, there are hazardous situations. China, has many coastal metropolises, but they do not manufacture anything within the city limits. The areas where manufacturing happens, were actually SEZ's earlier, and they were outside the city limits. I could be wrong, about the Chinese scenario, but I feel, this might be so. In Kolkata, the city might become an academic, and commercial hub.
Good job Dola. I enjoy reading your Calcutta Corner- (your predecessor on this column was a disaster.)
Hitler Didi is not kind to her critics. Several journalists and newspapers have been blacklisted ( you can be included to the list), her own cabinet ministers have been punished for deviating from the party line, police officers have been transferred for not voicing Didi's opinion. Her populist policies however have kept the political opposition at bay.
Hoped to read from your column the reaction of Calcutta to Ganesh Payne's death. ( Outlook blog covered the obituary but not Calcutta's reaction).
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