Rajarhat--Bengal's showpiece township and one that Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee so proudly points out as a sign of the state's resurgence--stands as an eloquent testimony to faulty planning, shortsightedness, inefficiency and incompetence of all those who chart the state's, and it's people's, destinies. The township, foolishly touted by Bhattacharjee and his team as the country's best, lacks all amenities--drinking water, power, roads, sewers, shops and markets, public transport and security. As a result, a few score families who were taken in by Bhattacharjee's tall talk and purchased apartments at the upcoming township have had to shift away. Housing & Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO), a state agency developing the township for 1.5 million people, only offers excuses for the lapses. Many who were planning to purchase apartments there have changed their minds. The reason behind this monumental folly that Rajarhat has become is sheer ineptitude of officials in charge of affairs, and their political masters.
But then, it is not just Rajarhat, but most other projects in this state, that suffer for the same reason. No project in Bengal gets completed in time and after completion at huge time and cost overruns, they develop or throw up even design defects and shortcomings. Be it flyovers, bridges, roads, pipelines, drains or housing colonies, the story is the same. Which makes me come to a point I always make: how is it then that Bengalis claim to be so intelligent? It's only human to commit mistakes, but only imbeciles repeat them. It is high time Bengal's rulers, planners and officials admit they're unintelligent and incompetent and take lessons from other states. There are examples galore of good, intelligent and visionary planning, even next door in Orissa. Bengal only has to look and learn. And to do that, Bengalis have to stop thinking they're the best when they're clearly not.
This is another point I never tire of making--that people of Bengal lack work culture and are basically lazy people who love to shirk work. Yet another example of this was provided earlier this week when employees of the National Library laid siege around the director's office to protest attempts to make them work. A committee came up with the shocking revelation just a few days ago that it taken an employee one whole day to catalogue a book! Compare this to private libraries where it takes an employee just ten to fifteen minutes to do the same work and where an employee catalogues about 25 to 30 books a day. But at the National Library, whose employees are paid out of the public exchequer and are, fittingly enough, mostly aligned to the CITU, lakhs of books are gathering dust and have even been laid to waste by the elements and insects, thanks to the lazybones. And then, they have the temerity to launch this shameless agitation to protest attempts by the authorities to make them catalogue more books--not 25 to 30 a day as in private libraries, but just five to six books.
In the past, employees have been found guilty of stealing books and smuggling out rare documents, but their powerful CITU backers have always protected them. This is the case with employees in all other government or public establishments in the state who, when the Left came to power in Bengal three decades ago, infamously raised the slogan that they ought to be paid their salaries for simply commuting to their workplaces! It's not only government employees, but also those in private establishments who shirk work at the slightest opportunity. My friends in the corporate sector tell me about low productivity, indiscipline and belligerence of their lower and even middle-level employees. Can this state move in any direction but south?
Who's To Blame?
Climatic conditions here--high humidity and sultriness--are not conducive to hard and energetic work. That's one reason for the laidback and lazy attitude of people here. But there are more powerful factors as well. One is the thinking among Bengalis that being intellectuals, they're above menial work. But the most important, perhaps, is the CPI(M) which has systematically destroyed whatever work culture the people of this state had in the past. Defiance of authority, indiscipline, shirking work etc are some of the traits that the CPI(M) has encouraged among government and private sector employees. The CPI(M) and its affiliates like the CITU have always protected errant employees. This party has reinforced the attitude of intellectual superiority and arrogance among Bengalis.
The dominant Left culture in Bengal has ensured its residents have been imbibed with a sense of loathing for authority and private capital. Thus, Bengalis have become an anarchic lot who'll intentionally violate rules and laws and will resist all attempts to discipline them and make them fall in order. The industrialist, the banker, the top executive, the office
boss--these are all hate figures to the average Bengali who suffers from a crushing inferiority complex and tries to hide it behind intellectual pretensions. A prominent person had once said that what Bengal thinks today, the country does tomorrow. In reality, what Bengal thinks today, the rest of India had done years ago. And sadly, Bengal can't even think right and straight these days.
The Left is like a cancer that has eaten into the body of Bengal and left its soul depraved and devastated. Bengal is but a pale and sorry shadow of its former self. All institutions have been systematically destroyed by the commies; society has been totally politicized and the government machinery has been reduced to a mere adjunct of the party. The spirit of entrepreneurship that Bengalis once possessed has been totally destroyed by the commies with their short-sighted and suicidal opposition to private capital. The aspiration levels of the people have been kept at an artificial low. The vice-like grip of the Leftists on even the private lives of the state's residents have reduced people here into little more than automatons who think, act and behave in a linear, narrow, and regressive manner. The constant endeavour of the communists to perpetuate the supremacy of their party over all institutions and society at large has left no room for private or collective apolitical initiatives that are transforming the rest of the country.
All arms of governance have been thoroughly compromised and made subservient to the CPI(M). Bengal has thus become an authoritarian state where the CPI(M) reigns supreme. And it is thus the commies who have to be weeded out if Bengal is to survive. It won't be easy to do this. Drastic measures and a certain amount of brutality are necessary; it is after all a cancer and cancerous cells can only be killed by a strong chemotherapy. The salvation of Bengal and Bengalis lies in decimation and total annihilation of the communists. They're the enemies of Bengalis and deserve extermination by even undemocratic and authoritarian means. Using such means would be justifiable because commies don't really believe in democracy, but use and abuse the freedoms that democracy guarantees to undermine democracy. There can thus be no mercy for them, and more so since their true loyalties lie with China.
A critical self-analysis would go a long way towards helping Bengalis find their flaws. This can only happen, and it has to happen, when Bengalis concede that, like all other communities, they too have their flaws. I've mentioned and described in detail many of these flaws, or at least the major ones, in this forum quite often in the past and, hence, there's no need to repeat them. This endeavour of mine has got many a reader's goat at times, and I regret that some responses have been abusive and, hence, sans logic, reasoning and worthy of reaction. I've also noticed many responses from Bengalis who display an unfortunate tendency to blame other communities for Bengal's ills. It needs to be underlined that Bengalis themselves are responsible for the state of Bengal today and it would be not only futile, but also self-defeating, to blame other communities or New Delhi.
Bengalis need to immediately shed their intellectual arrogance and accept that they're as intelligent or intellectually-inclined as any other community in the country. As I've repeatedly said, Bengal produced many visionaries and stalwarts not because our creator vested Bengalis with extra intelligence, but because the British chose to establish the first educational and scientific research institutions in Bengal. Had they done so in, say, the Andamans, the Jarawas and Sentinelese there would have produced Nobel laureates. Ironically, the names (Tagore, Jagdish Chandra Bose, S.N.Banerjee etc al) we Bengalis love to take weren't parochial or sectarian at all and had, instead, argued in favour of opening our minds to influences from all over the country and the world. But we've become so inward-looking today and harp on the past because we've nothing to show for the present. This has to change. It is not difficult to change out mindsets. I believe reading of and understanding the works of great men of yore, like Tagore and Swami Vivekananda, would make us open our minds and hearts to external influences and enrich our lives and souls thus.
Fare Thee well
'Kolkata Korner', with yours truly as the writer, draws to a close with this. It has been exciting and very rewarding to note, observe, rant at, condemn, oppose, praise, run down and hold up so many events, trends, personas and traits over the past couple of years. I've earned my fair share of brickbats and bouquets and it has always been great to read the critical responses. Some constructive and well-intentioned criticisms--and I wish there were more of those--have enriched me. And no, I'm not a non-Bengali with a Bengali nome de plume , but very much a Bengali who loves his 'maach-bhaat', especially if the 'maach' happens to be 'ilish'. Just that I'd love all Bengalis to be able to afford the 'ilish' even every day and for that to happen, we need to change. My 'subhechcha' to all.