Mamatamayee: a worthy psychological case-study

Abhirup Bhunia writes an electrifying piece, “Didi, The Eccentric, Paranoid, Conspiracy Theorist”  in Youth Ki Awaaz

Cartoon courtesy: surendran & The Hindu

Having conquered the erstwhile Marxist citadel riding on heavy anti-incumbency, she has since tended to put an attitude of indomitability. But deep within lie a sense of insecurity and a fear that she might be unseated. She fears tough questions. She doesn’t like her shortcomings being pointed out to her. Critics unsettle her.

All the same, she has an even worse propensity to fly her own kite and go on about how it is her 1 year at the helm that saw the best of Bengal.

Typically, politics is dirty, and much so in India. It is about mudslinging, arguments and counter arguments.  But Mamata can be solely charged with disfiguring the rhetoric. Her tirade against CPM and anything distantly CPM like is ugly, fearsome. Not since independence has Bengal seen a more overbearing state. Badmouthing is all the rage in Mamata’s Bengal. And it is mostly the ruling party.

Mamata’s illogical statements and bizarre justifications have citizens worried. Her censorship tales are common knowledge. Arbitrary arrests under her rule on the one side and discretionary release of jailed partymen on the other side add up to a depressing incongruity.

Her hatred for CPM is understandable, not that it is allowed in democracy. But what’s downright intolerable is her labelling of all people as CPM’s agent who question her tenure, criticise her government’s functioning or point out the severe anomalies among her party and her cabinet.

And it so happened at a recent people show at a TV channel when university students gathered to engage in a Q&A session moderated by the channel’s senior editor. What ensued was absurd, deplorable and literally slanderous. Mamata went on to directly allege the students rightly critical of her government of being “Maoists”, “CPM cadre”, SFI members and everything anti-TMC. She wildly asserted that the audience was selected from an ultra-Leftist student block.  Clearly, it’s the same old conspiracy theory that Mamata resorted to. Bengal has heard this before. The nation has. Mamata has to get over her paranoia, stop seeing conspiracies everywhere, bite the bullet, and finally broaden her mind up.

And if she gets the time, she should start fearing the lull in Bengal. The storm might not be too far away.

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3.5 crore toilets are missing in India, 1.1 in U.P.

Govt and census figures show disparity of 3.5 crore latrines

If this doesn’t raise a national stink, little else will.

Around 3.5 crore toilets are missing in India, if official statistics are not meant to be flushed down the drain.

The Union rural development ministry claims its Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) has delivered more than 8.7 crore latrines to households across villages over the past decade. But household data from the population census shows that only around 5.1 crore households had latrines in 2011. (See chart) Such a wide gap need not be a proverbial slip but anything is possible in a country where industrial production has been miscalculated by as many as 5 percentage points a few months ago.

Toilets are missing from Bengal, too. The sanitation campaign figure for Bengal was 80.7 lakh, 16.6 lakh more than the census figure of 64.1 lakh. The state was sixth on the list of those where the discrepancy was high.

Uttar Pradesh was on the top, with over 1.1 crore missing toilets.

The rural development ministry had launched the sanitation campaign in 1999 under which Rs 2,200 was to be provided to every household below the poverty line to build a latrine. Installing a toilet costs about Rs 2,500 and the houses were expected to bear the balance.

The plan was intended to make India free of open defecation by 2017. The ministry claims that by erecting 8.7 crore latrines,i t has achieved 70 per cent of the sanitation campaign’s target of 12.5 crore. But the census data challenges the claim.

“This discrepancy in the number of latrines hints at over-reporting and pilferage in the implementation of the scheme,” said Naresh Saxena, a member of the National Advisory Council.

“The actual number of missing latrines is much higher than 35 million because when the TSC began in 1999, many households would already have had latrines,” Saxena said.

Saxena also said many villages projected to have complete sanitation facilities and accorded the Nirmal Gram Puraskar certification did not have latrines in even 50 per cent homes.

Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh,w ho last year said open defecation was a blot and a shame,admitted that the TSC data projected an inflated picture on rural sanitation.

“I believe the census data more than the TSC data. The TSC data is reported by state governments based on financial expenditure.This is unreliable,”he added.

Sources said calculations of state governments were based on how much money had been released and no inspections were usually carried out to verify if the intended beneficiaries had spent the amount for the purpose it had been given.

Till April 2011, the Centre’s total expenditure on the campaign was Rs 19,626.43 crore.

The scheme is being implemented in 607 districts across the country.S tate governments give a matching grant. (courtesy: The Telegraph)

Promised Delivered – Mamata’s Achievments in 168 pages( 4 of which are ‘ulta’)

AMID NEGATIVE NEWS, 168 PAGES OF GOOD NEWS IN BENGAL

The answer was blowin’ in the wind and rolling off the presses while the chief minister was insisting

“you (a section of the media) only see the negative, you don’t see anything positive“.

A 168-page paperback, titled Promises Delivered and printed in glazed paper, is available for anyone willing to fork out Rs 100 and eager to read about the achievements of the new government which feels its good work is not being given enough recognition.

Advance copies have already started reaching the tables of senior officials who were caught by surprise because they were already working on such a list for the big day round the corner: the Mamata Banerjee government’s first anniversary next month.

“Very few people in Writers’ actually knew that it was getting published…. Everyone is now working on the oneyear commemoration book, scheduled to be published next month,“ said a senior state government official.

Others were marvelling at the production quality and size of the tom-tom tome. “This is the first time that I have seen such a voluminous publication about the government’s achievements,“ said an official who got the book free yesterday after the chief minister’s office started distributing it.

Some officials suggested the chief minister’s office wanted the publication “as soon as possible“ to counter what Mamata has described as “slander and conspiracy“ in the foreword of the book. (See excerpts in chart) If such a word did indeed go out, those who printed the book appear to have spared no effort:

such was the haste that Pages 41-44 in at least one copy have been printed upside down.

But that should not take anything away from the effort to highlight the achievements the government has managed over the past 11 months.

After explaining the problems -mainly financial constraints -that she has faced in her attempt to deliver on development, the chief minister has highlighted some of the major achievements in her four-page foreword, which have been explained later in detail under different department heads.

“Some are publicly criticising us without mentioning our good performances. This is unmixed conspiracy….False statements are issued forth and facts and statistical data are being ignored,“

she has written in the foreword.

The past few weeks have been a public relations disaster for the government and the chief minister, culminating in the arrest of the Jadavpur University professor for emailing a cartoon.

Against such a backdrop, the book presumably hopes to set the record straight and bring those who strayed back to the straight and the narrow.

Sources in the state secretariat said that around 10,000 copies of the book -a majority of them in English and the remaining in Urdu and Santhali -have been printed from government-owned Saraswaty Press. Unlike most government publications, quality paper has been used for Promises Delivered, which has several colour pictures of Mamata, some of them reliving the happiest moments of her chief ministerial career. Among them are a November 10, 2011, picture with Sharmila Tagore and Shah Rukh Khan at the film festival inauguration and another a week later with Sachin Tendulkar at the Eden.

A senior official of the state information and cultural affairs department, which has published the book, said that the main objective of the book was to make people aware of what the government has done. “It is nothing new. The book is basically a translation in English, Urdu and Santhali from the book published in Bengali to mark the new government’s 200 days in power,“ he said.

The government had brought out a Bengali book -Kichu Kotha, Kichu Kaj (Some words, some work) -in January as Mamata had promised in her manifesto that she would give the people of the state the chance to evaluate her. “We could not distribute the book to all the departments that time and that’s why we have brought out the English version now,“ said the official.

Such a publication would not have drawn much attention but for the fact that government of Trinamul spokespersons have been repeatedly speaking of negative publicity .

Last evening, the chief minister herself had complained of negative news and said in response to a question on development:

“Had you seen the positive side too, you would notice that this government’s performance is 100 out of 100.“

The only problem is if the paperback becomes a bestseller, the state may end up losing money , although for a good cause. Off the record, some officials put the cost of producing the book between Rs 150 and Rs 200 a piece, which means if more and more readers buy it at the official price tag of Rs 100, the state will be adding to its losses.

The Telegraph does not intend to add to the burden of the state exchequer but it is sticking to the cardinal paperback code of not letting out the suspense-filled contents of Promises Delivered.

Instead, the newspaper has done the next best positive thing to plug the book by unabashedly offering a sneak preview of the foreword and highlighting the outlet (see chart) from where you can buy it.

Happy reading! Courtesy: The Telegraph

Madam, grotesquely disastrous chief minister Banerjee !!!

Madam, in only eleven months you have proved yourself to be a grotesquely disastrous chief minister.

You and your administration have achieved what we thought was impossible in such a short time: you have actually increased misery and sadness inside the state, even as you’ve turned Bengal into the laughing stock of the rest of India. If, under the Left Front, the rest of India used to pity us and snigger at us, now the country is just laughing at us, belly-laughter mixed with open contempt.

What we did not foresee, what is truly terrifying, is that you seem to have scrunched that trajectory of thirty-four years into thirty-four weeks.

let me tell you how the last four British prime ministers have been portrayed in cartoons in London newspapers: John Major, always wearing his underpants outside his trousers; Tony Blair, as a one-eyed monster, sometimes as a one-eyed poodle trotting after George W. Bush; Gordon Brown, as a square, financial thug and bouncer; David Cameron, repeatedly, as an empty, blown-up condom. Along with these, they have also repeatedly had George Bush as a rampant, psychopathic chimpanzee, (once actually wiping his bottom with the UN logo), they’ve had Nicolas Sarkozy as all sorts of ferret-like animals, Berlusconi as a lecherous octopus and, recently, Angela Merkel as a dominatrix in skimpy black leather costume and fishnet stockings, wielding a financial whip over the exposed backsides of other European leaders. Besides this, one of the most widely read British satirical magazines, Private Eye, almost always has actual photographs of leaders and royalty with fictional speech bubbles coming out of their mouths, saying the most outrageous things.

THE MORAL MINEFIELD

– Thirty-four years in thirty-four weeks

The Thin Edge: Ruchir Joshi

Madam Chief Minister Banerjee,

I am writing this letter to you on my own computer and sending it out for publication via my own email. I am not, and have never been, a member of any political party, of any communist party anywhere including the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M).

I am a citizen of India, of West Bengal, of Calcutta, and I live in the constituency you formerly represented as an MP — South Calcutta.

I have also never been a supporter of yours or of your party, though I was certainly among the millions who celebrated after the election results last year. All of us were celebrating the end of the long, incompetent, corrupt, oppressive rule by the Left Front, even though I’m certain some millions of us were anxious as to what your tenure in power would bring.

But we had believed in the hope of paribartan. I think we, the sceptical West Bengali millions, were hoping that you would lead a better, cleaner, fairer government than the disgraced, departing Left Front. In the euphoria of the election results it was impossible to imagine that you could do worse than Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government.

I myself made a resolution that I would not write anything critical of you or your administration for at least one year. It was only fair, given the huge mess you were inheriting, a mess that was not only administrative and financial but also, centrally,moral. The Left had so completely dismantled and thrown away all decency and humanity in matters of State that you could trace the roots of all their other failures to this institutionalized immorality; surely you had to be given a fair chance to begin to clean up this overflowing sewer?

Sadly, despite my best efforts, I’m going to fall short of my promise by exactly one month. I am now forced to write to you openly in this column. Madam, in only eleven months you have proved yourself to be a grotesquely disastrous chief minister.

Before taking on any of the other challenges, your primary challenge was the moral one: to stem the corrosion of morality and honesty in public service. The Left had subverted the state police into becoming their armed peons, you were supposed to counter that by bringing back genuine independence of the police and security forces. The Left had overseen the gang-rape and assaults on women from Bantola and Birati to Nandigram, you were supposed to do the opposite, especially as you yourself were one of the women their goondas had grievously assaulted. The Left had ruthlessly attacked anyone who criticized them, using State machinery to silence and sideline dissent, you were supposed to ensure that democracy and freedom of speech were once again protected, and yes, precisely, even at a cost to yourself and your party.

Instead, we can now see that you yourself were already deeply corroded by those years of Left rule. Instead of being the chief surgeon who could excise and help cure the corruptions of absolute power, you yourself were terminally infected by the Baam Front rot, by their poisonous paranoia, by their vengeful megalomania.

You and your administration have achieved what we thought was impossible in such a short time: you have actually increased misery and sadness inside the state, even as you’ve turned Bengal into the laughing stock of the rest of India. If, under the Left Front, the rest of India used to pity us and snigger at us, now the country is just laughing at us, belly-laughter mixed with open contempt.

If the communists spent the last fourteen years of their rule doing nothing other than clinging on to power by whatever means, fair or foul, it was after they had tried to actually do something for the people for the first twenty years, even if they were wrong-headed, even if they were incompetent and without any genuine vision, even as their too-long reign began to inject acid into their souls and spines. What we did not foresee, what is truly terrifying, is that you seem to have scrunched that trajectory of thirty-four years into thirty-four weeks.

Madam, perhaps it might be time for

you to resign and go.

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Had someone in your administration, whoever was in charge of fire safety, taken responsibility and resigned after the AMRI fire, it may not have come to this. Had you fought your own rising paranoia and kept from commenting after the Park Street rape, it may not have come to this. Had you realized that you had not only offended the modesty of a rape victim but the collective conscience of Bengal and unreservedly apologized to the woman, it may not have come to this. Had you not transferred the police officer who proved that rape, you could have perhaps escaped this situation. Had you kept from compounding your mistake by similar irresponsible and callous comments about other assaults on women, or on the murders in Burdwan, it may have been different now. Had you not treated every bit of tragic news as only a lens through which to gaze lovingly and protectively at yourself, you may still have kept some credibility. Had you avoided attacking newspapers and TV channels that were critical of you, you would have been left with some democratic honour. Had you not pushed out your own minister from the door of the runaway train of your rule, there would have been no mild photo-cartoon sent to 25 of the 90 million people you rule and no criminal over-reaction from your partygoondas and your paaltu police. As it is, you now oblige us to remember that adage about history repeating itself, first as tragedy and then as a farce: if the Left Front was the tragedy, you — and since there is no one but you in your Trinamul, you, solely — are the macabre farce.

Madam, one of the most bizarrely funny things you’ve kept repeating during your election campaign and afterwards is how you want to turn Calcutta into London. Well, perhaps it’s high time we imported some aspects of London culture. For instance, let me tell you how the last four British prime ministers have been portrayed in cartoons in London newspapers: John Major, always wearing his underpants outside his trousers; Tony Blair, as a one-eyed monster, sometimes as a one-eyed poodle trotting after George W. Bush; Gordon Brown, as a square, financial thug and bouncer; David Cameron, repeatedly, as an empty, blown-up condom. Along with these, they have also repeatedly had George Bush as a rampant, psychopathic chimpanzee, (once actually wiping his bottom with the UN logo), they’ve had Nicolas Sarkozy as all sorts of ferret-like animals, Berlusconi as a lecherous octopus and, recently, Angela Merkel as a dominatrix in skimpy black leather costume and fishnet stockings, wielding a financial whip over the exposed backsides of other European leaders. Besides this, one of the most widely read British satirical magazines, Private Eye, almost always has actual photographs of leaders and royalty with fictional speech bubbles coming out of their mouths, saying the most outrageous things. Let me tell you, no one has ever sued about these portrayals, no one is beaten up, no one is arrested, no one even lodges a written protest.

Madam, as one who had set such high hopes in you, I might be speaking for millions like myself: you need to resign and go, leaving us at the beginning of this Bangla new year to recover the best we can. May I suggest that after you resign, you plan a short or long visit to London? You will find they actually do dynamic new things to the city, like the huge Crossrail construction that’s now in progress, but that no one, neither premier nor mayor, can unilaterally decide to paint the city a bilious blue. You will also find they take rape and assault very seriously over there, and cartoons very lightly indeed. As you take in the reality of this culture and the courage of this freedom of speech, may I hope that you will begin to realize why you never deserved — forget being a world or national leader — but why you never actually deserved to be in charge of a state such as Bengal for even thirty-four days.

(courtesy: The Telegraph & Ruchir Joshi)

The Telegraph wishes SHUBHA BANGLA NAVAVARSHA

If you are still not wearing such handcuffs in Bengal, Subha Nava Varsha and read on…

The Telegraph describes the present situation in West Bengal under Mamata Banerjee….

First, you can’t laugh in Bengal at the expense of those in power.

“This is very autocratic….
I earlier did not want to use the word `scary’ but I have to admit that this scares me,“

said economist Abhirup Sarkar, who has been a vocal supporter of the new government on several issues.

Second, even the everyday act of circulating something that you have found humorous could cause you bodily harm and invite police action.

Third, if you happen to be the secretary of your residential society and if someone uses the society’s mail to send jokes that the ruling party finds offensive, you are in trouble.

Fourth, the offence of attempting to outrage the modesty of a woman has been given a mystifying definition.
The Telegraph is publishing the cartoon (left) so that readers can make up their own mind if it outrages the modesty of anyone and if it is obscene as charged.

Sukanta Chaudhuri, professor emeritus, Jadavpur University,the renowned academic known for measured words, expressed incredulity.

“When the chief minister of the state is a woman, then should every criticism of the government now amount to insulting the honour of a woman? Then any speech becomes impossible!“

If you manage to escape or survive all the tribulations mentioned above, you still can be beaten up near your home and forced to sign a confessional statement -the fate that awaited Mahapatra, the chemistry professor, on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday .

CM Mamata says,

Mischief, If someone commits some mischief, what will police do? Won’t they arrest him? And if somebody is arrested, the CPM’s two channels and a handful of newspapers will start a slander campaign against us.They will show it through the day . I will feed you (CPM) well, dress you well, let you sleep in a cool room and ensure all comforts but you have to go to sleep for 10 years.“

The last sentence was a message to the CPM.