Tapas Majumdar remembers the Calcutta of 60 years ago with great fondness in the Telegraph:
I think Right and Left have always been a very inadequate description even of political activity.
...The right wing and the left wing, as many will know, were descriptions first defined by the way members sat in the French National Assembly of 1789-91: the nobles in the wing to the right, the common people to the left, of the president of the Assembly. In course of time, as parliamentary democracy unfolded, the left wing came to be referred to as “a group or party favouring radical, reforming or socialist views”, as the Oxford Dictionary succinctly tried to put it...
...But from all I can surmise from a distance, for many among the intelligentsia, the bonding with manush (human being), to use the more modern term for Tagore’s janagana (people), has not been lost.
I cannot make out how exactly today’s manush, in turn, relates to Calcutta’s intelligentsia. But one can see how the state’s political apparatchiki can take on the teachers, the doctors, the poets, the artists on the assumption that connections between such people and Manush have simply vanished.
...the Right-Left dichotomy is old and difficult to dislodge — but why not redefine Right and Wrong from the standpoint of social justice and responsibility, and in that light redefine Crime and Punishment in the Indian Penal Code? That may yet set the cat among the pigeons — of all colours.
There is a lovely story about PC Joshi too. More here
Jun 25, 2009