Sir — Ramachandra Guha’s article, “Patriarchy and prejudice” (Feb 9), throws light upon the patriarchal mindset. If one were to compare the participation of women in the Indian freedom struggle with that of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, one would find that more women took part in the former. Women were “massively under-represented” in the Bolshevik Revolution.
The Marxists in this country too seem to suffer from a similar prejudice. In 1998, Brinda Karat, the politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), resigned from the central committee to protest against the lack of representation of women in the party’s decision-making body. However, things have hardly changed for the better. Women continue to remain starkly under-represented in India’s chief communist party.
One often hears how, during the formative years of the party, it was the women who constantly supported their husbands who led the movement. These women faced abject poverty, suffered frequent interrogations by the police and had to visit their husbands in jail. It is sad that such contributions have remained unrecognized and unsung.
Chameli Pal, Batanagar
Sir — Patriarchy has a hegemonic hold on most institutions in this country. This form of discrimination finds support among conservative religious leaders. Ramachandra Guha has aptly traced the history of the movement of women’s emancipation in India that was pioneered by Raja Rammohan Roy in the early nineteenth century. Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, a secular humanist, also carried the baton forward and attempted to free women from unjust oppression.
Oppression of women existed even during the time of the Ramayan and the Mahabharat. The leading ladies in these epics, Sita and Draupadi, were victims of the norms of patriarchy. These epics often do not give enough agency to the women and their voices remain unheard. Guha also refers to the forceful and convincing arguments of Millie Polak that convinced Mahatma Gandhi to rid himself of his prejudices against women’s emancipation. A country can never develop as long as its women remain shackled.
Sir — The bureaucracy in our country mostly consists of highly learned individuals with profound theoretical knowledge who are far removed from grassroot politics. Bureaucrats and politicians differ widely with respect to their spheres of work. The editorial, “Not their master’s voice” (Feb 9), argues correctly that our state has had a “long history of craven bureaucrats”.
Whether bureaucrats should pay heed to the orders of politicians or not can be looked at in two ways. It is important to keep in mind that although most bureaucrats are more academically sound than the average politicians, it is the latter who are more aware of the needs of the masses. So, in that case, civil servants should pay heed to them. But nowadays, most politicians are found to be corrupt. Hence, if following the orders of politicians amount to a violation of “the rule of law or the Constitution”, for the sake of national interest it would be advisable for civil servants to steer clear of such diktats.
Bureaucrats need to exercise utmost caution as the politicians are often swayed by the leanings of their respective parties. Better implementation of orders by civil servants will help raise the quality of governance in this country.
R. Subhranshu, Chandernagore
Sir — The article, “Solitary voice” (Feb 11), by Manini Chatterjee highlights the industrial initiatives undertaken by the former chief minister of West Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Bhattacharjee reiterated his zeal for industrialization in his recent pronouncements in public. Developing industries in the state might be the need of the hour. However, setting up large-scale enterprises often requires sizeable tracts of land that are scarce in West Bengal. Chatterjee aptly mentions that the projects in Nandigram and Singur “met with spectacular failure” during Bhattacharjee’s tenure. These initiatives were junked soon after the Left Front lost the assembly elections.
The Trinamul Congress government has disassociated itself from the cause of industrialization. The new government has not managed to find an effective solution to the problem of land. Consequently, several entrepreneurs do not proceed beyond exchanging pleasantries during business meetings and summits. The process of industrialization in the state will get the required impetus only when adequate land is provided to industrialists and land-owners are suitably compensated.
Chatterjee has compared Bhattacharjee with the Tripura chief minister and Left leader, Manik Sarkar, and stated that the former is more adept at “mass politics”. I do not agree with this view fully. Most people are of the view that Bhattacharjee is a politician without a mass following. However, there is no doubt about the fact that he is an experienced theoretician.
If the Left Front comes back to power after the next assembly elections and Bhattacharjee happens to be at the helm, then his practical outlook might succeed in winning over industrialists to West Bengal. Only this time he would have to be a tougher administrator.
Diptimoy De, Calcutta