Sir — The people of West Bengal live with the stigma of having a poor work culture, and as a corollary, a lack of shame (“People’s work”, Feb 10). The chief justice of the Calcutta High Court rightly remarked that there is no point in passing orders about strikes in a “country” where there is no work culture. However, to be fair, it must be mentioned that the younger generation displays a more work-friendly attitude. This is certainly encouraging.
Many political parties thrive on the culture of bandhs, which, at times, last for more than a day. Bringing the entire state to a standstill is not a wise thing to do. Political compulsions probably gave the impetus to the strike that has been called on February 20. However, it is fortunate that with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s intervention, the earlier plan of a two-day bandh was cancelled in favour of a one-day general strike. If the Left hopes to come back to power in West Bengal, it has to give up on the bandh culture and help improve the work culture of the state.
Ashok Kumar Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir —The editorial, “Same old party” (Feb 6), aptly described how the central leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) “cannot grasp the popular sentiment” against the bandh culture that the party has been known for.
It has become fashionable for political parties to call strikes on flimsy grounds in order to draw mileage. What the leaders forget is that instead of harnessing political benefits, the bandhs draw hostility from the people because they disrupt everyday life. A shutdown inconveniences daily labourers and can hardly mitigate the sufferings of the common people. Nationwide strikes, such as the one called by the unions on February 20, bring trade and commerce to a standstill, costing the exchequer heavily. It would be wiser to resort to more peaceful ways to convince the government to take action and resolve the issues at hand.
In recent years, the economy of Bengal has been crippled; enterprise has fled to other — more developed — states. Bengal needs careful restructuring to gain prosperity and development. This cannot be achieved unless the work culture improves and rapid industrialization takes place. It is unlikely that the strike will help in achieving this.
The present government needs to put in tireless work — with full cooperation from all quarters — to rebuild the state. However, the many proposed holidays are likely to come in the way of progress, since they might make the workforce idle and lethargic.
Jayant Mukherjee, Calcutta
Sir — The editorial, “People’s work”, correctly states that the phrase, work culture, has lost its meaning in West Bengal. In the run-up to the last assembly polls, it was alleged by the Trinamul Congress that over 56,000 factories were shut down during the Left regime. It is high time the people of West Bengal rise up to the occasion to dispel the economic gloom plaguing the state, and make their own fortune.
Govinda Bakshi, Calcutta
Sir — In his recent interviews to two television channels, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the former chief minister of West Bengal, had not only aired his opinions on the culture of bandhs but also expressed his apprehensions regarding the bleak socio-economic condition of the state (“Buddha safe: he’s hit with only legal notice”, Feb 7). His fears ring true. Indeed, there are few visible attempts on the part of the government to address this issue. No clear road map for development is in place.
Interestingly, the government is yet to respond to the fears expressed by the former chief minister. All it has done is slap him with a legal notice for having voiced his personal opinion about Mamata Banerjee’s “honesty”. The government follows a policy of zero tolerance when fingers are raised at the chief minister, but the more serious matters concerning the common people do not have a bearing on its actions.
In a democracy, the well-being of the people should be given maximum priority by the government, unlike in an autocracy, where safeguarding the ruler’s interests comes first. A public leader is always exposed to criticism, and he or she should have the courage to face such criticism gracefully and with dignity. However, if the leader is intolerant and reacts inappropriately, it might stifle public opinion and even constructive criticism. And this, in turn, will not be conducive to the well-being of the state.
Srikanta Bhattacharjee, Calcutta