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

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From 50 Years Ago: Oh, Where Are the Rowdies of Yesteryear?

Special Articlef from Volume XV, No 19, May 11, 1963.

(From a Calcutta Correspondent)

Maybe with every year Calcutta dies a little bit more. But, at least till last year, despite the transparency of decay, one could still feel and touch the protest of life in the environs of the city. It was the white heat of agitation which somehow provided…the catalysis of enthralment…this allurement was on account of the fact that, at the margin, every day in the year, the possibility existed that the city might suddenly erupt…

*

The emergency has changed all that. Calcutta today is an infinitely dull city and, as the afternoon slides into the dreary evening, one knows that nothing is going to happen, there is nothing to look forward to. The processions won’t be there, the slogans won’t tear asunder the depressing lull, the acquaintances one meets in the shops and coffee houses would have nothing to offer beyond wishy-washy speculation on Chinese motives. Bengali drama is at a standstill…

*

This dullness is easily explained. Political activity has been the staple of Bengali existence for three-quarters of a century. It is the politics of dissent which in most cases provided the impulse for new strivings in art and literature, in music and drama…

*

There can be little question that since the end of Subhas Bose’s era, it is the Communist Party which had been providing the forum for Bengali dissent. A history of the intellectual life in Bengal covering the period, say, 1942-62 would largely mean a roster of Communist names…

*

With the going under of the Communist Party, dissent has gone out of Bengali existence…There is no squeak of protest left anywhere…

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