It’s the pujas, let’s go buy
Sir — Colour supplementaries in newspapers, full-page double spreads in colour, and black and white, not to speak of large hoardings all over the place, peddling everything from multi-storied shopping malls to obesity and beauty clinics — the Durga Puja today has lost whatever religious flavour it might once have had. The pujas are now — from start to finish — a consumer jamboree. I may have problems with someone having designs on my pocket but no one can deny that companies do have to sell their products, and what better time than a festival when people are at their most flush and generous. The problem with all the frenzied shopping is not merely ideological. What jars is the shrill pitch and the mad scramble for attention. As also the fact that the exchange of gifts during puja has been coopted into a consumerist ethos that reduces everything into a parody of itself. Not to speak of the traffic snarls that make the city roads nightmarish.
Jagannath Das, Calcutta
Sir — Time and again, the people of Calcutta have demanded a ban on rallies, but it seems such pleas will be heard only when they are made by a judge like Amitava Lala, who was caught in one of them for 30 minutes (“Police permit, politicians play”, Sept 26). Rallies not only affect the area in which they are held but they also set off a chain reaction, paralysing much of the city. They are also pointless, in that they achieve nothing. Their only purpose is to delay people rushing to keep appointments, students on the way to examination halls and ambulances on emergency cases.
If these rallies can’t be banned, they should at least be shifted away from central Calcutta. Also, the participants should be transported to these rallies rather than walk slowly to the site, bringing traffic to a stop. With Lala taking the initiative against rallies, can the citizens of Calcutta hope for better times'
Zaki Mubarki, Calcutta
Sir — That so many rallies were allowed to take to the streets at the same time and that too during peak hours, is a sign of civic mismanagement (“Justice cries halt to rally raj”, Sept 26). The contempt notice sent to the Calcutta police by a high court judge who was caught in the jam is meant to remind the administration of its duties; it is not “judicial activism” as some politicians have called it. The police have not spelt out when these rallies can be organized and what routes they should take. This is why they venture out during peak business hours.
A resident of Kurseong, I and my friend walked three kilometres on September 19 to reach Sealdah station to catch the Darjeeling Mail. Fearing a traffic jam, we had left one-and-a-half hours before the train’s scheduled departure even though the distance could be covered in 15 minutes. My fears came true when I had to get off the taxi, baggage in hand, because it was stuck for more than 50 minutes in a Biswakarma procession.
Ramesh Agarwal, Darjeeling
Sir — The chief minister held his “durbar”a few days ago, so naturally it was time for others to follow. The situation in West Bengal has deteriorated so much because the politicians here do not practice what they preach. Why were so many rallies held at the same time' Is it political muscle-flexing or the imminent elections' Or perhaps, unemployment being so very high in West Bengal, the jobless must find something to do to pass time'
There has been such a hue and cry over the rallies this time because a high court judge was caught in a jam; no one says anything when ordinary citizens face this situation everyday. Amitava Lala may have censured the police. But the police portfolio is held by the chief minister himself, so why blame the police who are nothing but scapegoats' Traffic snarls result in the loss of many valuable work hours daily, that Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s grandiose plans of inviting foreign funds have little hope of succeeding. The law of the jungle prevails in Calcutta. It is time the judiciary intervened.
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — The people of West Bengal may be disgusted by the many bandhs, meetings and road-blocks, but no one does anything about the situation until one day a judge faces the same ordeal. The courts have not yet managed to force the government to set aside a new place where meetings can be held so that the traffic in the city is not disrupted. What about a road-blockade by some advocates recently to protest against police high-handedness' The city administration is clueless.
Jayanta Datta, Hooghly
Sir — It was the chief minister who was responsible for the traffic jams of Monday, September 22. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee should at least try to keep his word in the areas where he can easily do so. Or else, people will start believing he is just like any other politician who says one thing and does something else.
Pachu Ray, Calcutta
Sir — Most film reviews in the supplementary, “etc”, are wrong-ended. One said Janwaar was a lumpy mix. The film was superhit. Another said Raju Chacha was fresh. The film flopped. And in Aks Amitabh Bachchan outclassed himself. But the film flopped. Recently they wrote Qayamat was useless, but it succeeded.
Arindam Kar, Calcutta