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Calcutta Diary

Pitambar Pant was a proud man, but this pride was an echo of his pride in the nation and of the confidence he felt in the nation's ability to chart out a course of independent economic development under the auspices of the state. Did not this confidence have firm empirical roots? Or is it that relativity is all, the hard datum of the late 50s is worth nothing 40-odd years later? If only he were around, one could debate the issue with him. He was a great one for debates, the life-blood of a democratic polity.

Calcutta Diary

The game of cricket is part of the entire polity. It is the crooked Indian politicians who have debauched the economy and provided the principal inspiration for the downfall of cricketers. And if no politician of any stature has gone to prison convicted of a criminal offence, it would be somewhat lacking in natural justice to pack off a cricketer of note to serve a term of imprisonment.

Calcutta Diary

In a large number of middle class homes, the children have departed for foreign shores, a fair majority to the United States. Their parents had devoted the best years of their lives and the bulk of their resources to turn the children into finished products. The children are, really and truly, the intellectual property of the parents and the country. But for this intellectual property neither the United States nor the west European countries are prepared to pay the proper price to the parents and the nation.

Calcutta Diary

The prime minister's near-open appeal to all groups of 'militants' in Kashmir to join the peace parleys comes much too late in the day. The invitation should have gone out at least 20 years ago. Now there is unlikely to be any solution to the impasse without the government of India's admitting the essential reality that Kashmir is not, repeat not, an 'inalienable part' of the Indian Union.

Calcutta Diary

It is a national malady of the most sickening kind to convert into icons hoary old men after they kick the bucket. A large proportion of the nation's energy and resources are spent in observing birth and death anniversaries of such departed souls. The individual thus worshipped might have been a crook of the first water or he might have had the reputation of an unspeakable despot while alive, but the ritual of hypocrisy continues unendingly month after month and year after year.

Calcutta Diary

Cliches such as hope and disappointment perhaps do not impress personalities of the timber of Paul Sweezy. They remain ensconced in their integrity, and that is the reward they enjoy the most.

Calcutta Diary

Whether the complaints and accusations against the Left Front have any objective basis or not, they have left their mark on the psyche of West Bengal's urban electorate. The non-fulfilment of popular expectations, the swelling number of unemployed registered with the employment exchanges, the shift of sentiment in the refugee belts, suspicion about the proliferation of corruption amongst Left leaders and cadres much in the manner it did amongst Congressmen in the earlier decades, the disillusionment with socialist ideology following the debacle in eastern Europe, and the glamour of life and living in western countries as broadcast by the satellite television channels have gradually led to a steady fall in Left Front support in the urban and semi-urban pockets in the state. Much of what is happening at this moment, the Calcutta Corporation election outcome included, is a reflection of these developments.

Calcutta Diary

In the kind of society we have built for ourselves, the younger members of the wealthy, fresh from the finishing schools set up for their edification, are not easily rattled. Why should therefore the town cynic interrupt the ongoing process of money and more money accruing to him or her through pilferage pure and simple and income distribution further tilting in favour of the right - that is to say, wrong - categories?

Calcutta Diary

There are still a few leftover codes of civilisation which capitalistfeudal systems cannot forsake. The LTTE may have won the war, but those trapped in the Elephant Pass include some of India's close friends from the hoary Madras Cricket Club days; for their sake, the terms of the eelam, so goes the whisper, deserve to be suitably modulated. This is contemptible nonsense, just as most of the other assumptions underlying globalisation are.

Calcutta Diary

The ongoing commotion, the medley of accusations and counteraccusations, does not deter the Indian bookmaker. He makes a pragmatic assessment of the ingredients of ground reality. What poses a challenge of a different nature is that, under Indian law, betting in cricket is a criminal offence. But the way-out is simple. Why not amend the piece of legislation so that betting in cricket is no longer a culpable offence? The solution is indeed breath-taking. We could likewise take out rape and murder from the roster of criminal offences and murderers and rapists would immediately belong to the lily-white species.

Calcutta Diary

This year's union budget intended import restrictions on sugar to be lifted forthwith. Something went wrong, the prime minister has actually ordered the reimposition of import duty on sugar. This is, to say the least, scandalous, in the view of the pro-liberalisation crowd. They cannot hide their impatience with the politicians who worry over the prospective loss of livelihood for half-a-million farm workers as a result of the withdrawal of import restrictions on sugar. As if employment is of greater national priority than the pursuit of economic efficiency.

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