Pocket full of bad advice
Sir — It is one thing to mug ready notes from the market before examinations. It is quite another to fish out slips of paper from the pocket and cheat. The Students’ Federation of India, students’ wing of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), has advocated the second method for Bankura’s medical students (“SFI pocket route to MBBS”, June 19). Instead of hanging their heads in shame, SFI leaders are proudly announcing that the advice was their way of relieving students of pre-exam tension. But this outright violation of the ethics of examinations makes it easier to understand why active members of the SFI are often alleged to cruise through their examinations without needing to attend lectures or even study. It is also no secret that in many colleges and universities in the state, SFI activists stall classes on some pretext or the other. For those who may not choose to be under their umbrella, keeping “some notes in pockets” is hardly the advice to give.
Smita Dey, Calcutta
Trouble on the left
Sir— Bhaskar Ghose’s article, “No reason to get smug” (June 11), reminds me of the fact that Jawaharlal Nehru was seriously apprehensive of the possible rise of communal forces in India, but was not so disturbed by the activities of the communists in certain parts of the country. The rise of the communal forces, however, did not become serious in Nehru’s lifetime. Ghose has voiced similar apprehensions about communal forces raising their head in West Bengal and the weakening of the hold of the Marxists here. His warning may be timely, but his prognosis is on the wrong lines.
Even while caste and communal tensions are tearing the country apart, these forces have not had any significant impact in West Bengal, although the number of communally-minded people is probably on the rise. In its approach to religion, Bengal has always adopted a more sensible stand than the rest of the country. The monolithic structure of Hindu religion could not establish itself here as it did elsewhere. The influences of Buddhism, tantrism, Vaishnavism and other forms of worship imparted a pluralistic outlook and generated a kind of liberalism not seen in any other part of India. To these may be added the messages of the Sufis and the bauls and Western enlightenment.
A new cultural concoction was thus prepared, which may be called the Bengali ethos, one that talked about the “religion of man”. It is, therefore, difficult in West Bengal for any party to communalize politics. In fact, this is why Bengal has become a fertile ground for the Marxists, who ideologically scorn religion and emphasize on the welfare of the common man. The moment the focus shifts, the people of Bengal will remove the left from power. The void then will be filled either by radical revolutionary forces, or by right-wing parties.
P.C. Banerji, Calcutta
Sir — The recently concluded panchayat elections in Bengal have raised certain important questions about the future of democracy in the state and about the internal crisis in the ruling left coalition, which is facing a shortage in quality leadership. Though the left has managed to retain power this time, its popularity is certainly on the wane. Bhaskar Ghose too has felt that the future of the Left Front is not too bright.
The frequent misunderstanding among different levels of the left leadership, and also the ugly clashes between the supporters of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and those of the other Left Front allies before and during the panchayat elections do not augur well for the communists of the state. These could well be the first signs of the left’s fading out from the political scene in the state.
Niloy Sinha, Azimganj
Sir — Satrujit Banerjee has shown up the 26 years of left rule in West Bengal for what it has been — over two decades of misdeeds and misrule (“Already dysfunctional at twenty six”, May 13). Although it is still enjoying power — owing mainly to the absence of a unified opposition in the state — the Left Front has failed in all spheres, be it health, industry, education, employment, information technology or transport. Developmental work has virtually come to a standstill because of the terror tactics operating at different levels of the leftist establishment. In what way is the state of affairs in West Bengal now any different from the jungle-raj of Bihar'
C. Roy, Calcutta
Sir —The results of the recent byelections in West Bengal confirm the dominant position of the CPI(M)-led Left Front in the state (“CPM steamrolls divided opposition”, June 12). The whimsical ways of the Trinamool Congress leader, Mamata Banerjee, are only helping the left to perpetuate its rule in the state. The coming away of a number of front-ranking members of the Congress to form the Trinamool Congress has reduced the importance of both parties in West Bengal politics. The Bharatiya Janata Party is still of little consequence in Bengal politics. But the Trinamool Congress should return to the Congress fold so that the BJP fails to bag the position of the largest opposition party in the state.
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — Just the hint of the sangh parivar’s appearance on the political horizons of West Bengal has sent Bhaskar Ghose into a tizzy.
However, a quarter century of left misrule, during which the state has moved from “A” to “C” category of Indian states, does not seem to bother him at all. It is becoming the wont of experts like him to smell hatred and conspiracy in every action of the sangh parivar.
K. Roy, Kalyani
Sir — Instead of protecting heritage buildings like the Taj Mahal, the government of Uttar Pradesh seems to be more concerned about attracting tourists (“Sullied wonder”, June 23). That too, the wrong way, by creating a commercial area around the Taj Mahal, full of malls and restaurants. Thankfully, it is not possible to undertake a project of this magnitude without the approval of the Centre, and this is where the Mayavati government has got stuck. Their should be state-level enquiries into the case.
B.S. Ganesh, Bangalore
Sir — The timely intervention by the Union culture minister, Jagmohan, has saved the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort this time around. Taj Mahal’s system of water-flow, in its originally built fountains, is lying choked for centuries. The water of the Yamuna along the Taj should be streamlined to add to the appeal of the building and also to provide better environmental conditions. The Union government should do everything within its powers to stop construction around the Taj.
Subhash Chandra Agarwal, Delhi