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Diptosh Majumdar
Thursday , June 03, 2010

Mamata Express: You can't stop her anymore


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There hasn't been any full stop in the political story of West Bengal for thirty-three years. After the civic poll results were declared, we can almost see that punctuation mark - even the end of the chapter. Mamata Banerjee, the only person who stood up and challenged the Left Front is rewriting history. These elections were not about civic issues, not about roads, electricity and water. These elections asked the voter if there should be a change in Bengal next year. And the electorate said a resounding yes. It's a pity that Mamata Banerjee doesn't use a small word like change. She says parivartan in Bengali. And parivartan is what she is going to bring about by May, 2011. It's symbolic that the government of the proletariat is being brought down by a woman who's plebian in every way possible. She hasn't received a classy upbringing. Her father....


Monday , January 18, 2010

Jyoti Basu, the last Bhadralok Communist


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Some would say God is not qualified to judge Jyoti Basu because he had never--not even in his weakest moments--uttered a prayer for an intervention by the Almighty. Even Karl Marx, whom Basu swore by in his early life, would have found it difficult to evaluate a life so complicated, and possibly enriched, by genuine contradictions. His admirers will insist that Basu's was probably the most liberal face among Communists on Earth and would compete with that of Gorbachev's. His critics will lash out at him and use intemperate language to describe the country's longest-reigning chief minister as a failure. They'd say in the end he did nothing for Bengal. Yet, if you add up the bits and pieces of his remarkable life you'll also realize that he did a lot for India: for the country's secularism, Left consciousness, political equilibrium, ethnic relations and, in general, for democratic well-being. ....


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Salute Thee Mumbai


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Some cities are born great, some achieve greatness and others have greatness thrust upon them. Many years ago, just out of my teens, I had alighted from a neat double-decker near Mittal Towers, waited at a bank counter to cash my travellers' cheques and then stared bemusedly at some of India's tallest buildings. I had the twenty-year-old's dreamy eyes, small ambitions permitted under a stifling licence raj and a heart which adored surprises. So, when I reached Nariman Point and gazed at the sea, I could feel poetry invading my prosaic self. Here was a city that beckoned the sea in a delightful arc - as though she was astonished that all that water had finally reached her shores. Mumbai, I realized was born great. I looked back at the milestones of human enterprise behind me, India's early skyscrapers. I realized that the city had also worked for her greatness.....


Tuesday , August 11, 2009

Left in the lurch


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There has been a tectonic shift in Indian politics. The official Left has been squeezed out. The Congress has transferred its weight a little to the Left to occupy the moderate Left-of-Centre position. At the far end, the extreme Left space has been taken over by the Maoists. As a result, the parties led by Prakash Karat and A B Bardhan have nowhere to go. There is a distinct possibility that in 2011, the Left may receive a severe drubbing both in West Bengal and Kerala. Its influence in Indian politics may plummet to an all-time low when even the Rajya Sabha is depleted of Left MPs. The Left has committed strategic blunders in West Bengal and Kerala. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee arrived with an industrial vision but went about implementing it like an unthinking bulldozer. It was political hara-kiri in an old-fashioned state like West Bengal to deprive people....


Monday , July 20, 2009

FORGET THE NEIGHBOUR


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Occasionally, foreign policy commentators view Indo-Pak relations through the prism of the diplomatic environment prevailing in the early Nineties. Those days the Indo-Pak hyphen was a key aspect of the dialogue process. The universal assumption was that with the US and Western Europe backing Pakistan, India was a socialist relic, yet to snip its umbilical cord with Russia. Americans thought of India as an impoverished republic practicing some kind of fake democracy with excessive state control. It was in American interests to look at a bracketed Indo-Pak relationship and be committed to Pakistan at a time when Russian forces had invaded Afghanistan. India was nowhere near being a strategic or a market ally of the US. That is why I ask the disappointed commentators, depressed after the recent Indo-Pak negotiations at Sharm-al-Sheikh in Egypt not to worry too much about what many insist is an inexplicable Indian capitulation. Let....


Thursday , July 09, 2009

Off The Wall


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"Before you judge me try hard to love me" from Childhood. Comparing Michael Jackson to the prodigious Mozart gives undue respect to the pop genre. But there's no denying like a true artist, Michael enjoyed an enviable chemistry with his environment and his audience. His songs, his moonwalk and the way he frittered away his hard-earned fortune, hosting lavish parties at his Neverland Ranch made him a cult figure. His skin ailment and innumerable plastic surgeries added to the curiosity value. His alleged incursions into the freakish realm of child molestation lent his life-story a malefic dimension. Michael himself was a complete entertainment package long before his obituary was written and his body packed forever in a gold-plated casket. Michael Jackson was a phenomenal talent. After he had grown out of Jackson Five and the audience had been alerted about his breathtaking freshness in Off the....


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How the BJP failed Advani


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It took almost five years and a demoralizing electoral defeat for the Bharatiya Janata Party to realize the essence of what L.K.Advani has been emphasizing at every forum since the controversial Pakistan trip. The visuals of rabid karsevaks moronically climbing the Babri dome and demolishing the historic structure do not instil confidence in voters in a diverse India. They have seen what the insane Taliban did to the Bamiyan Buddha. Ram and religion can nudge your vote percentage to a bankable 25 but for the giant leap forward, you need a carefully crafted tolerant face, a face as crisis-absorbent and consensus-reliant as that of Atal Behari Vajpayee. Advani knew that this was the only path available to the BJP but faced with unjustified criticism by lesser and intellectually deficient colleagues in his own party and the Sangh Parivar's fanatic outfits, he avoided taking the plunge. The party needed to....


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Lessons from the 14th Lok Sabha


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Now that we have said good-bye to the Fourteenth Lok Sabha, there is need to evaluate the lacunae in our parliamentary functioning. There are fears that if we further postpone the diagnosis, we'd risk the health of our democracy. The disease is not new; the rot had set in quite a few Lok Sabhas ago. That is why there has to be a sense of urgency about finding a cure. Forty-one MPs quit office in these acrimonious but compelling five years -- compelling all the more because multi-layered corruption was exposed on different occasions. We saw how MPs took money to ask questions, how they misused their local area development funds and even stumbled upon one who was unabashedly involved in human trafficking. Finally, we witnessed the shameful spectacle of wads of notes being dumped in the Well of the House when the world was watching the nuclear debate.....


Thursday , December 04, 2008

Letter from a Post-Terror Voter


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Dear Mr/Ms Politician I just wanted to remind you that Mumbai bled last week and lay helplessly maimed and crippled. The pictures went out everywhere of a city unable to protect herself, overrun by a clutch of only ten terrorists, too ashamed even to whine or whimper. The world watched her moments of painful embarrassment for more than three eternal days. Mr Politician, I have to remind you because your memory has been playing truant ever since 24/7 television channels began dominating our lives. You seem to forget even the immediate past once the camera lenses disappear from the terror-ravaged spots. Mr Politician, you display remarkable sensitivity when you escort Bollywood to the hotel where terror challenged the very essence of life and human existence. You are known to be a patron of the arts and you have been encouraging the fledgling career of your actor son....


Thursday , September 25, 2008

For Sanity's Sake


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A blast is a blast is a blast. Let's not forget this fundamental premise when we get into a post-encounter discussion on the Delhi blasts. The facts are too cold, too bloody to be ignored. The death toll stands at close to thirty; we don't have a definite calculation of how many have been maimed or crippled. A blast goes against the very essence of life and the living. It's a lust for blood for reasons that are worse than obscurantist. Neither should we arrive at a conclusion on the police encounter. We don't have the wherewithal to crosscheck the police story and, therefore, we don't have the right to jump to conclusions. There are a few gray areas which we can talk about later; but definitely, not now. We are all aware of the kind of voices on the streets, depending on the neighborhood where we are.....


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Diptosh Majumdar is the former National Affairs Editor, CNN-IBN.
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