ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Revisiting Kolkata As An 'NRB'

Two Victorian colonial trends continue to persist in modern Kolkata - the miserable existence of the city's poor on its pavements and a rejuvenated fascination for the glory of the raj on the other; both are sustained by the prerogatives and compulsions of the ruling party. The party's efforts to establish its hegemony over all spheres of civic life has fostered a symbiotic relationship with a rising criminal class - a class that feeds on and, in turn, also sustains the different socio-economic groups who have chosen to make Kolkata their home.

The Popular Politics of Crime

Veerappan's career as 'outlaw' ranged from his role as a traditional rural brigand with a Robin Hood image to a high profile smuggler-cum-kidnapper, who spun around himself a complex web involving forest officials, policemen, state politicians and even poor villagers. The convergence of these roles is almost typical of the new generation of mafia dons who currently operate in the metropolitan cities.

India's 'Home' Front

During the last 50 years, the Indian state seems to have succeeded more in alienating a large number of our people than in winning them over in the folds of its 'home'. It is the home ministry, which has been trying to rule vast swathes of our country with a rod of iron - from Kashmir in the north-west to the seven sisters in the north-east.

Can the Left Confront the BJP?

It is about time that those who still believe in the workability of parliament in India (its numerous failures notwithstanding) realise that the BJP is a party which is persona non grata in the Indian parliamentary system. The party has demonstrated on more than one occasion that it is committed to values and norms that are totally alien to those that underpin our Constitution. It is necessary to recognise that those committed to building a theocratic Hindu Rashtra have to be defeated. This is the real challenge before the Indian Left today. But is the Left willing to pick up the gauntlet?

Pornography of Torture

The roots of torture in the US politico-ethical thinking and geographical strategy go further back than September 11. The record of US troops in Vietnam in the recent past provides clues to what is happening in Iraq today. What is more ominous though is that the continuity of this tradition is being maintained by a new generation of young minions from the lumpen proletarianised sections of the American poor and middle class - both white and black men and women.

Remembering M N Roy

Despite the mercurial political swings that characterised his life, M N Roy remained consistent in his quest for India's 'psychological revolution and moral regeneration' based on his conception of a 'radical humanism'. His theoretical propositions on a variety of political issues retain their relevance even today.

Need of the Hour

In order to undo the damage that had been inflicted on us by the previous regime, it is necessary to go beyond the immediate task of cleansing the crucial institutions. Merely shunting out the heads of institutions and bureaucrats will not do.

Muslim Dilemma

Let down by the Congress and other secular political parties, Muslims have nowhere to go. Thus, the spectacle of large numbers of Muslims, especially the young, joining the BJP on the eve of the Lok Sabha polls is a signifier of the age-old nostrum, 'If you can't lick them, join them'.

Politics sans Ideology

Politics as a career is more remunerative and power-enhancing in India than any other profession. More important than the immediate cash transactions, however, is the sheer hope of power that seduces turncoats to stoop to the lowest level to become MPs, MLAs, or ministers with the help of any party, regardless of ideology.

Is This the Voice of the People?

A numerical majority of voters cannot in itself be held to be the criterion for judging a democratic system. For a system to earn democratic legitimacy, it is the quality of this majority, its ability to make politically responsible decisions that respect cultural plurality, secular values, human rights in the Indian situation, that matter. A wrong cannot possibly become right just because the majority voted for it. Similarly, a public agitation or a mass movement, even if claiming participation by a majority, should be judged by its politics, not popularity.

'Fahrenheit 451'

The Sambhaji Brigade's vandalism in Pune's Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in the name of protecting Shivaji's name finds an echo in the West Bengal Left Front government's ban on the Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin's autobiographical book Dwikhandito (Split in Two), on the plea of maintaining communal harmony. Both indicate the pathetic level of enlightenment and intellectual understanding among our public and politicians and raise important questions about the wisdom of arbitrary official ban on dissenting literature in general, and the validity of manipulated popular campaigns against such literature that often prompt the banning, in particular.

Better 'Nouveau' Than Never

Cases of corporate skullduggery, financial shenanigans, kickbacks and hush money collected by ministers, have escalated not only in numbers, but in size in the last 12 years. In India unlike in the west there are no built-in social security measures to protect the victims of the self-indulgence of free market and privatisation. There is neither any professional adherence to legal norms, nor any humanitarian commitment to social concerns in the judiciary.

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