Show to distract
Sir — The views expressed by Rudrangshu Mukherjee in his article, “Let the band play on” (June 3), are important and need serious attention. We have been treated regularly to circus shows — big or small — for quite a while now. A media-hyped private and unofficial cricket tournament was organized by and for the people who have the time and money for such entertainment. The team named after Calcutta won the trophy and this inspired a part of the city to go into a frenzy. The madness shown by the owner was understandable, but the people of the city and a few major officials of the government were also pulled into it. Opportunities like this come rarely to the city. It was a chance to deflect public attention from critical issues and the failure in governance. But at what cost?
Traffic snarls and lost man-hours are but hidden costs. The real expense in terms of the actual money lost would be enormous, borne presumably by the state government and the Calcutta Municipal Corporation. While roads remain unrepaired, water supply remains inadequate and drains stay clogged owing to a lack of funds, can we afford to present gold chains and raise huge pandals for a show dedicated almost exclusively to a filmstar who strutted around Eden Gardens on a working day? Does the state deserve this? Would someone let us know the cost of this tamasha?
Susanta Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — Rudrangshu Mukherjee correctly emphasized the Bengalis’ fondness for hujook — craze — that is usually bereft of a rationale. The publicity and felicitation ceremony arranged for Shah Rukh Khan and the Kolkata Knight Riders by the state and the city were unbecoming, given the state’s adverse economic condition. Mukherjee has aptly pointed out that KKR is a privately owned team, and that the Indian Premier League, which has no official recognition, cannot be compared to the ODIs, Test matches and tournaments like the Ranji Trophy or the Duleep Trophy. He also makes a valid point in saying that the team has very few Calcuttans despite its name. The team-owners do not live in the city and have never acted in Bengali movies. Why did the government of West Bengal waste public money on this event? It was indeed a state-sponsored “circus” that Calcuttans should be ashamed of.
Basudeb Bhattacharya, Calcutta
Sir — Rudrangshu Mukherjee makes some pertinent observations regarding the reasons behind the unnecessarily exuberant display of emotions at KKR’s victory. The government wanted to take the people’s mind off the real issues that continue to plague the state. The media added to the frenzy with pages and hours of coverage. The celebrations made the victory seem like the cure for everything that ails the state.
While West Bengal declines and its government keeps floundering, a neighbouring state — a laggard and victim of misrule for 15 years — has turned the tide. With an efficient chief minister, Bihar has become the fastest growing state in the country and an example of good governance. Given the moral and intellectual superiority that Bengal has always flaunted, will it take lessons from Bihar and get its act right? Or will it keep indulging in mindless celebrations along the lines of the KKR victory bash and absurd initiatives like painting the city blue and white while important issues lie neglected?
Devraj Chakravorty, Calcutta
Sir — It is unfortunate that the chief minister indulges in unnecessary activities which create a hole amounting to lakhs of rupees in the already depleted treasury. A classic example of this was the tamasha at the Eden Gardens. What made the governor attend the celebrations? His short speech on “true paribartan” drew a lot of criticism. It may be that he wants to keep the chief minister in good humour for obvious reasons. One hopes that Mamata Banerjee does not repeat such gimmicks and, instead, concentrates on her job.
A.S. Mehta, Calcutta
Sir — No comparison is better suited to describe the KKR victory ceremony than that to a mofussil circus. Entertainment may sustain the mind, but employment generation through industrialization is the only way to sustain the economy. Bengal has too many hurdles in the path of extensive industrialization that need more attention than an IPL victory.
Debabrata Sengupta, Howrah