Thursday, September 18, 2008

The most extreme form of self control known to mankind is to walk into your favourite ice cream shop without your wallet.

The other known method calls for even greater restraint. Walk into your store when there is an end-of-season discount sale going on, check out the clothes and bags, look at the prices, take a deep breath, pull yourself together and then walk out.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Alas Kolkata!

I don't intend to make any political statements in this blog. If anything, this post expresses my personal feelings but not any politicial ideology whatsoever. Having said that, I think I can go ahead and say without any prejudice that I am truly saddened by the fact that the Tatas had to pull out of the 'Nano' project in Singur. For long West Bengal has held the image of being an industry unfriendly state. The labour union is reputed to be so strong that most industries have had to close down. I have spent a greater part of my life in factory quarters of textile units and have been witness to two serious lockouts where we weren't even allowed to go to school because the gates were closed to everyone. I still remember seeing my parents worried because they had not brought enough groceries to survive those two weeks of lockout. I have lived through innumerable bandhs, which we rejoiced as children because it meant a day off from school and lament now as adults because it means having to go to office on a Saturday to compensate for a lost work day. I have known friends who were stuck in bandhs and could not return home at night. I have known my father's colleagues who were injured during factory strikes. I knew that my mother was not too keen on my studying in Kolkata when I finished school because she feared that with all the bandhs and strikes, there would hardly be enough time to attend classes in college. We seemed destined to despair all our lives.

And when the Tatas planned to open a factory in Singur, I thought we spotted a ray of light. This was going to be a new era for West Bengal. The Tatas with a reputation for harbouring the most satisfied employees, doling the best of benefits and with the path breaking 'Nano' car to be produced here, many would benefit from employment and WB would salvage some of its lost pride. It was everybody's win-win situation.

Except perhaps that we cannot please everybody all the time. Such is the bane of democracy. I certainly empathise with the people of Singur whose lands were unfairly taken from them. But why blame the Tatas for it? If anything, the government which allocated land should have accounted for it. Why couldn't the government which is such a people-friendly government clear the land problems first and then give a green signal to industry. We all know that there were several farmers whose lands were sold out to set up the software industry in Bangalore, when they could be compensated generously, can't our farmers in WB get their land's worth? I also believe that if the government gave the go-ahead for this project, then along with the Tatas, the government was equally responsible for ensuring that the project was a success. Political opposition notwithstanding. Today the political situation in West Bengal is such that every act of the government however good is always misconstrued to show the government in bad light. Some political rivals even went to the extent of creating villains not only of the government but also the Tata's and consequently Tata concerns in Kolkata were vandalised last year.

In the end, the Tatas had to pull out and we are now worse than where we started. Its one thing for an industrial giant to suffer financial losses, and quite another for a state to suffer the loss of image. This management disaster will not erased for a long long time. I wonder who will invest in the state after Singur and Nandigram. I am sure the opposition parties are making merry over their victory. I am certain that dying automobile plants in WB are relieved that they can retain their monopoly over the state (even though nobody buys their cars anymore). I wonder who lost in the big run. Will the farmers now get back their land? I believe that the factory was built already, so are they going to break it down and start farming again? Will the government and the opposition ensure that ? What about the loss of business, the economy that was building up around proposed factory. The township that would have developed around the factory that would pioneer the revolutionary small car?

As Bengalis, we will continue to win the small battles, but we will lose the war. We will cry foul when Sourav Ganguly is ousted from the team, but will never wonder why the state could not produce one more national level cricketer. We will proclaim to the world that Rabindranath Tagore is Bengali, but will not be able to protect his Nobel Prize. Sushmita Sen, Bipasha Basu, Anoushka Shankar, Jhumpa Lahiri and even Norah Jones will be feted for the 'Bong Connection' even when little credit can go to Kolkata for what they have achieved in life. Leander Paes may win Grand Slams because of the traning he received in Orlando, Florida but we are proud of our Kolkata boy. We still believe that Netaji Shubhas Chandra Bose will come back. We live in the past and bask in the dimming light. We want winners in our team but we do not provide the winning turf. We dream but we never wake up, because reality is always too stark for belief!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

As long as

I don't care who you are
Where you're from
What you did
As long as you love me