Friday, December 28, 2012

Neoliberal Trickle Downs: FDI, Coalition Politics, and beyond



While the country is making sense of the Delhi rape case, Tendulkar's retirement, Christmas and approaching year, Kaleidoscope is finding more liberalisation in the name of reform. Interestingly, while the country makers are repeatedly assuring about the care for the women and weaker sections, a mass movement is getting even more momentum. Within this chaotic situation we are slowly entering to the era of even more aggressive neoliberal pursuits.

What is trickling down?

While neoliberalism is commonly perceived as a form of economy, viz. cross-border movement of capital, it ought to have political predisposition. Kaleidoscope finds two primary issues associated with political predisposition of neoliberalism, first, state's helplessness in striking the balance between corporation's welfare and people's welfare and second, and related to it is state's compulsion of retaining faith of the corporations to ensure continuation of capital investments. Quite often this results in overruling the interest of the people to which a state ought to be more accountable. In consequence, instead protesting the neoliberalism wholeheartedly, states tend to make institutional environment feasible for the neoliberal economy to flow. The promises are catchy, "more jobs", "more money", "more capital", "more development(trickle down effect)", "more advancement", "stronger democracy", "healthier and happier lives."
Kaleidoscope, like many others is looking forward to these promises. However his Indian experience is quite different from these promises.

Identity politics:

While there are promises of "more", why should there be more fragmentations? The identity based politics advocated by even so called secular political parties reflect on the everlasting struggle over ever shrinking means of livelihoods to the people and ever increasing demands. The generation of enormous inequality in income and increasing equality in markets is one of the primary indicator of much more fragmentation in near future. A situation is further deteriorated with multiple fragments of identities based on the regionalism. Some one might not get the job because s/he is a Bengali who prefers not to leave West Bengal, or may be a Bengali businessman is not allotted a project just because there are Marwaris working as a team. The use of such sentiments in election is also very common. There are multiple identities, being a women, being a dalit person, being a muslim person, being some body from Bihar or West Bengal and not from Gujrat, on which there is even more complex game of politics.

Corruptions:

With neoliberal pursuits, key players are important in a democracy, therefore Walmart releases the amount they have spent for lobbying and in every few months Kaleidoscope witnesses new revealing of scams. 

Coalition compulsions:

Politics of convenience is at its best. Regional as well mainstream parties are safeguarding their own issues often at the expense of public interest. All could be seen is a shadow boxing, BSP walking out in protest, SP boycotts the voting procedure to help the Government out. BSP's vote in favour of FDI in Rajya Sabha transcends all records.

Fascism and cash transfer: furthering neoliberals 

Recent review of patterns of state's actions are quite alarming. There are examples of University professors being arrested because of circulating a cartoon, a man being arrested for asking a question at a public meeting, two innocent girls being arrested for making comments in facebook, entire city gets shut down in fear of unrest centring around the death of a local politician and so on. The lack of sensitivity (some say sense of humor) from the states also reflect the restlessness and mounting pressure on the states and regional powers because of the consequences of neoliberalism. To further such endeavour which might lead to further downsizing the state's role development is Direct Cash Transfer (DCT). Although Kaleidoscope like many knows the black marketing of government subsidy for poor, Kaleidoscope also knows the effect of cash and how it gets spend in real situation... more about that in some other day!!

 



  



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Developments, Displacements and "fevicol se"

Kaleidoscope is not willing to comment development discourse here. He will not discuss or debate development induced displacement. He wishes to reflect on his displacement because of much awaited development in his workplace.



The case:


Today morning a group of workers (Kaleidoscope knows the college building is getting repaired moments before fatal accidents) came and asked Kaleidoscope if he could give them kind permission to start repairing work in the department. Kaleidoscope gave it a thought, although there were hardly anything to think about, and agreed.

They started the operation and by afternoon transformed two out of three classrooms into archaeological sites. Kaleidoscope could not do anything but to take classes in the small and cozy teachers' room. His entire day had been spent on shouting to the students, who are quite reluctant to listen to what teachers speak, in a small room just to go beyond the sound of development process.

Just outside of the college building within the campus, annual sports are organised, which is more of a miking ceremony than sports per se. Therefore, when Kaleidoscope kept talking about narrative analysis, pupil kept attending "Fevicol se"

What we could and what we have:

The college authority could complete the repair work in the 40-day-long Puja vacation but they did not as PWD could not arrange it on time

The college could suspend classes for the annual sports for two to three days and could pressurise students union to complete the major events by then. It is impossible to complete such a mega event in three days time.

Hence,

Kaleidoscope is a refugee, students are refugees as well who listen to "Mere photo ko... mere photo ko seene se yaar... Chipka le saiyan Fevicol se...."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Play Time, Our Play Time and Vanishing Spaces


A still from Ideocracy... are heading towards this?


Kaleidoscope doesn't have competitive biceps, triceps or quadriceps, yet Kaleidoscope played throughout his childhood to his early adulthood. Frequency of attending the playground had fallen sharply with age and with changes in his career status. He completely stopped playing when he finished first two years in graduation. This was quite early retirement for many of his playmates and invitation to the ground continued till his playmates got their jobs mostly in IT companies. Kaleidoscope till date often meets his playmates and discuss good old days in the playground, fights, subscription collection for purchase of play items and never ending matches.

Playtime at Urban alleyways:


While making frequent visits at the queen's native place, Kaleidoscope finds children produce the roads and alleyways as their playgrounds.

Gully cricket tournament



Cricket, badminton and even football matches are organised in the alleyways.  Kaleidoscope smiles and his hypocritical self gets a peculiar satisfaction in making judgmental comments "this is urban hangover... children have no space to play." Kaleidoscope is completely unaware about what is happening in a large part of the rural frontiers.

Playtime at not-so-rural places:


Recently, Kaleidoscope makes visits at some of the not-so-rural places in West Bengal, mostly in Bardhaman district. In the afternoon he takes his camera and makes plan to take some shots of the children at play. While he keeps searching for such moments and local heroes, he finds empty lands and only a few places cricket matches are going on. The players are not children, they are about the age of Kaleidoscope himself. Curious enough Kaleidoscope asks a few of his known villagers to get reply "children are at private (tuition) classes." Local school teachers arrange for a couple of batches in the evening session where children of the first batch has to miss the play time. The children of the second batch has to study in the play time as after the coaching class gets over they hardly have energy to continue reading for the next day.

A photograph taken in Bandoan, Purulia. What should be the road-map for these children? Western Education? or should we recommend a coupling of western education and games - their mode of understanding of nature and livelihoods?


Rahul - Kaleidoscope's maternal cousin studying in class - IX like many others of his school has lost any attraction at afternoon play sessions. Rahul and his peers say that a) television cartoons are more attractive than outdoor games, b) computer centers offer attractive video games at cheaper rate, and c) coaching classes make it difficult to play regularly, hence, there is no network among players, and they do not turn up in the afternoon.

The larger picture:

While Kaleidoscope misses the opportunity of taking photos of the playgrounds and players, he is cynical about a few more issues, first, children at not-so-rural places are becoming more alienated from the nature and natural surroundings, second, they are lacking vital lessons like their urban counterparts, like team work, leadership, co-operation, cognitive understanding of speed and distance, etc., third, they are increasingly lacking physical fitness (pardon my generalisation). While the urban jungle makes play space vanish, educational burden is making more play spaces disappear even in places where plenty of open ground awaits.    


Why the mobile phone is not dead?



Or perhaps it's more pertinent to ask "why there are plenty of sets available in the market?"
Even more precisely
"why can't I leave my phone?"

There may be a long list of reasons for why should not I leave my mobile phone but even more powerful reasons are coming up in favour of leaving this machine, throwing it to the stinking municipal vats.
Somehow, a small thread is preventing me from doing this, and it is hard to define the thread.

It is not
a. that I am fond of the set.
b. that I have developed some sort of humane attachment with the phone
c. that I have brilliant memories with the instrument, or the person at the other end of the instrument
d. that I want to get connected with everyone.

While I know some of the "it is not" but yet to find the dimension of "it is"


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sandy and 'US': the obvious ethnocentrism

Taken from a facebook post

While Kaleidoscope was tracking Sandy news in BBC and CNN he felt a cold stream flowing through his backbone. If US is suffering from power cut, long queue outside the drinking water, oil and food sources that too moments before the presidential election, what could be the situation if it ever happens to his world?? These news channels including Al Jazeera continued to show the same video clippings from US. Within minutes Kaleidoscope started imagining US like an isolated island on which Sandy has attacked to satisfy personal wrath!

As Kaleidoscope like others learns from his experiences of bias and ethnocentric attitude attached to the mainstream news channels, it has been ages that he stopped taking news media on face value. Hence a quick search reveals that the storm kills more than 70 people in Cuba and Haiti. The storm also hit the Puerto Rico, Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic. In Haiti the devastation is comparable to 2010 earthquake (see Washington Post). Flooding at Haiti has triggered Cholera with 300 suspect cases (click here).

Kaleidoscope does not want to present himself as insensitive (though he is, sometimes)... there is no point in comparing death tolls and he knows comparative disaster analysis is meaningless here. However, yet the ethnocentric news reports make kaleidoscope to successfully bomb-out from his false consciousness regarding the end of ethnocentrism in so called global world. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Spectacles Called Durga Puja


Durga Puja represents a perfect example of transformation of local festivals into high profile festivals for touristic consumption. Although, the spectacles, as Kaleidoscope is observing since time immemorial is yet to gain touristic attention compared to what even the monotonous evening prayer gets at Varanasi.

Constructed space and spectators in AE (1) block of Salt Lake 2012

There may be two major positions, first, urban festivals gives boom to the city economy as we all see a rise in the consumption habit of Kolkatans. Second, and more importantly there is an element of ethnic pride and we can argue that the puja reinforces the content and meaning of collective identification.

Shibmandir's Puja at South Kolkata. It is classic mix if tradition and modern going hand in hand. The ritualistic part is controlled by the Temple committee and the decorations, etc. by a separate committee.
One must remember Urban spectacles are produced - in the sense of Henri Lefebvre and always include the process of commodification, hence, we see this

Gates with advertisement is one of the most important source of revenue - taken at Ekdalia Evergreen pandal 2012
Competition between different Puja pandals are now sponsored (taken from website)


Aestheticisation: 

The aestheticisation of every day life comes alive a few months before the actual commencement of the puja. Kaleidoscope is no exception. He accompanies the queen to several "good", aesthetically charming stores to buy materials of aestheticisation. It costs huge... but Kaleidoscope and the Queen finds it a pleasureful pursuit to buy clothes in this once in a year indulgence of consumerist selves. 


People taking snaps... one of the major pursuits of the Puja event is to look beautiful, capture them and preserve them.

The construction of spaces for consumption:

The Puja opens up the possibilities for the creative construction and transformation of a space. Most of the big puja pandals starts organising themselves immediately after one puja gets over. Within in a few months, the open space selected for the puja observes a great transformation. There are use of symbols, and material objects that signifies the transformation and makes the consumption possible.



Mudiyali Club 2012: constructed by the Zari and other glittering materials used for the decorating the idol.


Shibmandir 2012: the theme was DNA and human cloning


Hand pulled rickshaw has been aesthetically used by the Kashba Bosepukur Puja PandalL the entire construction is made by Pine wood.
Add caption

Part of the Kashba-Bosepukur Pandal


The essences:

There are almost ritualistic restrictions in experimentations with materials of the idol. There are several experimentations with the forms, but the materials i.e. mud covered straw and bamboo structure with paints. 



A typical "ek-challa" idol, taken at Saltlake AE (1) block 2012

Worshiping of "Bhanga thakur" is done by the Brahmin Professionals: Taken at Saltlake, BJ block Puja 2012


Spectatorship: 
The space that is created in the name of the Puja is lived and relived by the spectators. It reminds kaleidoscope that of Lefebvre's "third space." Each year, with ever increasing energy the space for the puja which constitutes a mix of tradition and experimentations with tradition is lived by the spectators - all with new clothing, aesthetic looks and energies to find a space in over crowded spaces.

Long queue of Pandal hoppers outside the FD block pandal, Salt Lake 2012

Spectators of the Puja at Ekdalia Evergreen 2012
There are late night pandal hopping, eating, spending money in commuting, making plans for spending money with dear and near ones... and so on... the space is relived and consumed as a whole. 

Concerns:

Kaleidoscope and the queen are hopping pandals for last several years. They ritually visit to the thematic pandals and also the pandals with little or no change. They, like many others make plans, fight over plans, save money, spend the savings without regrets, eat, drink, spend days without regular tasks. They feel that the entire city becomes art gallery. Yet, the touristic attention towards Durga Puja is much less. The consumption is still restricted to the Kolkatan's, who in turn gives their savings to the business houses. Apart from the domestic consumers, the city does not earn much concrete stuffs from the outside. There is a huge potential of making festival tourism that can circle around the great transformation of the space. Kaleidoscope and Queen discussed and debated the issue. They worked with The Boss, to make sense of the festival, transformation and consumption. They might write something out of their experience... however, Kolkata till date fails to utilise the tourism potential of urban space transformation. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Durga Puja and transformation of Kolkata: time to think beyond


Kaleidoscope along with the boss is roaming around the city for last couple of days in order to make sense of the greatest festival of Kolkata - the upcoming Durga Puja. He finds the pre-puja works as astonishing especially the ways in which art works are progressing. Kaleidoscope had been a regular spectator of the festival, but never had an insight of the background of the festival.


The beauty is to be found at each corners of the city, from far north, north, central, south and to the far south. Huge pile of materials for construction, dozens of labours working round the clock, and organisers with their excellent management skill are transforming our known Kolkata into a hyperreality and fragmented micro-environments comparable to art works in art galleries. 

Artists from art colleges, their students, labours with acquired skills are working together to make things happen, to entertain the spectators, pursue their creative impulse and often to spread specific awareness through symbols in an abstract way now popularised as theme.


Talking to the organisers, artists and observing the great transformations of the city is unexplainably vivid. There is no patterns in narratives that are coming out of the study regarding the history, thoughts, plans, executions, institutions and institutional structures which is making this study more fascinating.



A few art works. (Courtesy: http://bongfood.blogspot.in/2010_10_01_archive.html)


While Kaleidoscope is observing this great transformation, he is in a quandary... While the city of Varanasi can promote its Sandhya arati which is just a repetition of similar actions over time to pool tourists, why cannot our state do something to promote this art form? Why cannot we show to the world about the nature of art work performed by our talented artists? Why does the Puja restrict itself only to a few localised awards?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Building up the Jungle: places and transformations

The tempo of work continues even after twilight 

Kaleidoscope is now living in Post Belghoria Expressway era.

The archaeaology of expressway:

The inception began before Kaleidoscope even born. The place which is now speedy expressway was a huge pile of soil, covered with lusty green grass surrounded by trees. It was the place for Kaleidoscope to play around with friends, in his early childhood. Later he went for morning walks and evening walks. Watching birds had been larger than life experience. Expressway, which now completely engulfs the lusty green field is black and white, speedy and enhances the quality of life of kaleidoscope (?).

The newer Jungle:

Since, the place around the expressway is now well connected to the airport (only 3 mins of bus ride), dunlop (6 mins of bus ride), and NH 6  and NH 2 (15 mins of bus ride), there are urban jungles coming up. The places where Kaleidoscope used to play around... large water bodies and wetlands that housed several wetland birds are now filled up by large scale earth moving equipments. There is a sudden replacement of the greenery, birds, fishes and several other material beings. Much plausibly memories, attachments to the place where Kaleidoscope thought he belonged is also getting replaced rapidly. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Will FDI combat the agro-politics in West Bengal?


The answer probably is "we will never know." We will never know until it is implemented. Meanwhile, there are strong protests from different corners.





Kaleidoscope thought this is a high time share his experience with cold storage politics in Bardhaman, West Bengal.

The story:

Kaleidoscope went to Baghnapara region where annual production of potato has been quite high. The troubles which Kaleidoscope and his boss had, was with the losses of farmers both with under and over productions of Potato and an increasing rate of farmers' suicide. Kaleidoscope visited several stakeholders of the cold storage including the farmers, middlemen, local political personalities, storage owners, investors and a couple of families having their members committed suicide because of huge loss and indebtedness with potato cultivation.
 
The story goes roughly like this:

Pre-cultivation:

A. Farmers' decision to cultivate potato

B. Local loan providers' willingness to lend money.

C. Store-owners's assurance of giving space to store

Post-cultivation:

A. Production with huge loaned amount - resulting selling off potato at throwaway price.

B. Production but space crunch at storeage - resulting selling off potato at throwaway price.

C. Having space and holding potato for right price - high interest rate of the loan providers and ultimately selling off the potato bond (the paper which contains information regarding the amount of potato deposited) to the loan provider at considerably low price.

D Holding potato - but then sudden fall in the price rate incurring loss

Politics and economics of potato bond

The potato bond usually goes from one hand to another in exchange of money. Quite often the money is borrowed from local money lenders - who frequently is the cold storage owner or a large share holder. Therefore, at the end of the season, the entire produce of the region goes under control of a handful of people who can then control the market price effectively. Their political nexus is strong enough to influence regional leaderships.
The potato chain, (ref. Nath, Suman and Chakrabarti, Bhaskar. (2011). Political Economy of Cold Storages in West Bengal, Commodity Vision, 4(IV): 36- 42


What FDI promises:

So far Kaleidoscope understands, FDI promises direct purchase of items from the farmers and then direct sell to the consumers, so as to remove the price hike and less payment to farmers by the middlemen. Kaleidoscope's cold-storage experience much plausibly suggests that FDI would definitely improve the condition of the small and marginal farmers. Kaleidoscope however is living with a few questions.

The questions:

1. Does a state like West Bengal have the infrastructure where foreign traders can go to remote villages and purchase items directly from them? 
If they does not, wouldn't it create a new class of middlemen who will make profit by directly procuring items and selling them to the traders?

2. Could not we make better financing system available at the villagers so that the money lenders fail to exploit them? 

3. Shouldn't we make stronger agro-cooperatives who can directly deal with the markets, even if there is no FDI?

3. Should not we make a concrete data bank on cold-storages and their distributions and start imposing regulatory mechanism so that local co-operatives can work effectively?


Kaleidoscope thinks that if these infrastructures are build up, agro-cooperatives can negotiate with foreign traders better and make most out of it. If the negotiations fail they can independently build up marketing mechanisms for better profit and better price.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

If it is private, then why in a blog? thinking beyond Private/Public dichotomy

Today, the Queen's elder cousin (with a generation gap and hence the question) asked Kaleidoscope about blogging. Kaleidoscope's usual answer made it difficult to draw the boundary between maintaining diary and blogging. One of the major reason for this blurring boundaries in the answer is that Kaleidoscope, quite often than not writes down stuffs that are personal, although in a supposedly "difficult to decipher" form. The Question Kaleidoscope asks to himself:

Why does Kaleidoscope write private stuffs in his blog?

The answer probably is

Kaleidoscope wants to share what is personal... but he does not want to share it with people who physically know him. He presumes, even if they know, they will not question directly, therefore, he makes a conscious attempt to form "messy text."

Then the most relaxing part:

In web world, with crores of pages, Kaleidoscope's words are kept as safe and secure, with a hope that there are people who read them... may be empathise them...

Therefore, blogging breaks the dichotomy between private and public... effectively... Kaleidoscope loves this uninsured status 

Things you can repair, do it... things you cannot, just sleep off

Kaleidoscope is blogging too much now a day. It is not that he is getting much more time than what he used to get. Do not associate hyperactivity and responsiveness with sudden rise of energy level with this frequent blogging.

Wish Kaleidoscope had "tools to repair"


It is just that Kaleidoscope is increasingly becoming aware that a lot of his world is irreparable. Whatever he could repair, he has done. For those things which are beyond the engineering capacity of Kaleidoscope is left undone.

The work load is increasing each day. Meanwhile, Kaleidoscope is hiding himself from the daunting task to the character in blog - the Kaleidoscope. He is famously known as possessing almost charismatic character of "sleeping off" the irreparable items. Now that the pending repairing task is increasing, Kaleidoscope is increasingly suffering from paucity of sleep! He wakes up for a day long headache... he sleeps for a night long restlessness - somewhere deep inside Kaleidoscope hears "repair... repair... repair..."

Monday, October 1, 2012

Banking Reform, Cash Transfer and a Promise of Transparency: PMO's Paradox


This Photo was taken by Kaleidoscope during his MGNREGA fieldwork and is awarded by UNDP as one of the top 50 photographs in Humanising development campaign  http://www.ipc-undp.org/photo/

Kaleidoscope was enthusiastic to evaluate the implementation of MGNREGA in Bardhaman - one of the better performing districts in West Bengal for four consecutive years.

The banking factor:

In the last two years of his evaluation period, MGNREGA payment was supposed to be made by direct account transfer, which required the following things:
1. Location of state recognised banking systems in villages, which was often not the case.
2. Bank's readiness for opening a zero balance account for all the job card holders in the region, many of them might draw Rs. 1000/- or less per year.
3. People's banking know-how.
4. Adequate staff in the banks to handle such a huge number of accounts
5. Security facility to the bankers to manually carry the money from one branch to another.

The noble aim was: a) make the money transfer transparent; b) install banking behaviour; c) reduce workload from PRIs

The issues with banking:


kaleidoscope during the long fieldworks found out the following:
1. forget the private banks, even nationalised banks did not show any interest to open zero balance account, Panchayats had to pursue the matter, sometimes with threat and potential violance.
2. Staff shortage made it horrible to the bankers to manage such a huge amount money transfer and account handling, as people queued from early morning to late evening to collect money primarily because of a mistrust to banking system.
3. Banking staffs took high risk to bring lakhs of rupees without police support.
4. Actual workers, in places had to pay a percentage to the local dadas, which they also paid when banking system was not installed.


The two interesting recent phenomenon:


Before coming to the actual point Kaleidoscope must quote from two contradictory facts:

FACT - A:
August, 22 India's national bankers observe a two-day strike to oppose Banking sector reform.

"Foreign ownership of Indian public sector banks is capped at 20 percent, and some global banks have been pitching for a hike in their holding limit to expand their presence in Asia's third-largest economy by acquiring smaller regional banks.
In what is being seen by analysts as a positive step towards reform, parliament is likely in coming days to approve amendments to banking laws that include raising the limit on shareholders' voting rights in public and private banks" [see Reuters http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/22/india-banks-strike-idINDEE87K08920120822]

FACT - B:

September, 28 "Prime leads initiatives for direct cash transfer to subsidy beneficiaries"

NDTV reports that "The Prime Minister has begun the process of developing a system that will allow cash to be transferred directly to the bank accounts of those who qualify for government subsidies and schemes." [http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/prime-minister-s-new-scheme-for-direct-cash-transfer-to-subsidy-beneficiaries-273418]

The paradox:

The MGNREGS experience which Kaleidoscope reports is still there. There are payment delays, people loose several man-days because of banking takes huge time. Banks and Post offices are reluctant (and they have every reason to be so) to work for these schemes. Middlemen are there, in the name of help they take away a certain percentage of money from the beneficiaries. Furthermore, if gradual reform in banking sector ultimately results in a significantly high degree of privatisation, should we expect private banks to open accounts for such beneficiaries? Does rural India's has such infrastructure that we can run banking reform and subsidy transfer hand in hand?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Virus of Caste and Religion and the Infections They Spread: Politics Beyond Bad and Good

Caste: a practical joke in definition
One of the practical joke that Kaleidoscope receives from one of the never ending answerscripts is the definition of the concept of caste by one of the under graduate students in their university examination.

"Caste is an airborne virus, no one can escape from infection it spreads. It starts even before you are born ad continues even after you are dead..." - Kaleidoscope wondered about this philosophical definition and then gave a zero the answer, as he has to.

Changing political configurations? a few questions
Back home Kaleidoscope was going through a brief list of phenomena that have taken place in West Bengal after Parliamentary election 2009 when left front government had enough evidence to be afraid of losing the assembly election scheduled for 2011. 

Kaleidoscope questions "what is the most conspicuous political change in the state?" 

There may be a list of it, starting from the strategic use of popular sentiments to a more nuanced association of iconic personalities with the power house, even in protest demonstrations. Something which is strikingly different in present day politics of the state is the frequent caste and religious comments in mainstream political discourse. 

Does different statement means differences in action?

To an extent, yes! it does. see for example:

Jyoti Basu mentions in 1980

"Caste is a legacy of the feudal system and viewing the social scene  from the casteist angle is no longer relevant for West Bengal"

Mamata Banerjee mentions in 2009 (Times of India)

"I shall work for Matuas as long as I am Alive... I have instructed railways to fill up all posts for SC/ST immediately"


For left front government the approach remained roughly same at the surface. However, the same government looked for rising reservation to the minority population especially the Muslims months before assembly election 2011 (click here)

The Hindu reports
"The shift of a section of the minority vote away from the Left Front in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections is believed to have been an important reason for the severe electoral reverses suffered by the Left parties. Political cicles will be closely watching the 201 State Assembly elections to see if these measures enable the Left to regain the minority vote, a traditional vote bank that is also being keenly pursued by the Trinamool Congress."

Apart from several other special provisions at present the CM announces special honourarium for the Imams (click here), special reservations of seats for OBCs in the coming panchayat elections (click here).

Keeping in view of the present circumstances, both the left front government and now the TMC government put emphasis on the caste, religion in a manner a skeptic must say a new politicization of caste and religion (see for example, Sinharay, 2012)


Should we call it a virus? 

Much plausibly, mentioning the caste and religious sentiments as virus marks a negativity. Kaleidoscope knows, as many others know too, we live in an unequal world, social games are never fair games, state, no matter whether it is run by left front, or TMC must look for, seek out and undone the historical injustice to our fellow citizens. However, as skeptical self of the Kaleidoscope and many others would see the political agenda behind left front's rapid focus on OBC and TMC's continuous focus on the same, there is a sense of threat too when extreme measures are getting extreme answers "Pay honourarium to priests" too (click here).

Poor Kaleidoscope, could not give more than zero the student who gave the fascinating definition of caste. 

Reference:



http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-09-04/india/33581221_1_obcs-panchayat-polls-cent-reservation

Chatterjee, P. 1997. The Present History of West Bengal: Essays in Political Criticism. New Delhi: Oxford University Press

Sinharay, P. 2012. A New Politics of Caste, Economic and Political Weekly, August, 25, 2012 


Mind and making it up


Kaleidoscope is indulging his Procrastinating self for quite some time now. He is continuously deferring his pending tasks of writing things up, collecting stuffs for future reading and making of list of what to do next!

The distance between Kaleidoscope's mind and making it up is causing only silence. In between he has been reading a lot... mostly unsystematic reading... Anandabazar - Frontline - Study materials - Partha Chatterjee - Telegraph - A few Xerox copies - Television...!

The percentage of keeping an eye on the study materials is low enough to ignore that Kaleidoscope is a PhD student at some University under some one who is always sending study materials and inspiring him to keep on working...

Kaleidoscope have thought out several plans to make him mind up for a full fledged push in the acceleration device that can make his PhD thing move. Making up mind has never been so hard!

Kaleidoscope gives excuses to himself with his long lasting journey, pile of answer script evaluation, preparation of lectures for his classes, giving time to his co-habitation and so on.


Now that Kaleidoscope has not been working for the thing he loves the most - he must worry...! and start planning before it is late. :(

Saturday, September 22, 2012

... and the religious view points

Kaleidoscope's never ending process of creating a home is economically and emotionally challenging. A simpler part of the process is building a physical space to live on. A part of the process is adding colour to the walls. As none of the super specilised and skilled family members can build any part of the house, colouring surely demands outsiders to come inside and show their skills.

The outsider:
Bablu da, is not just any outsider. He is simple, well behaved person, specialised in adding colour to the rooms, in which Kaleidoscope and the queen are going to stay shortly. Bablu da is highly skilled in giving wall putty, polishing them and colouring them. He is a contact we get from Dilip kaku, who is involved with Kaleidoscope's family for last twelve years. Beginning with the application of Plaster of Paris, at the down stairs, he is often called for cleaning the walls and windows.



The incident:
Kaleidoscope did not think that his not so special lunch with family in the afternoon will become dramatised to such an extent that the family would forget everything else even West Bengal's politics, center-state relationships, ever deferring Daily Allowance, etc. etc. except the drama. It was around 2:00 pm, when the door bell calls, soon after Bablu da left the place. An unknown face with Bablu da came shouting,
"do you know him?"
"He was unnecessarily roaming around our house?"
"His attitude was not right?"
"He claims to work at your house?"
"I think he is thief?"

I saw Bablu da shamefully standing. I said:

"yes I know him!"
"He has been working at our place for last seven days"
"He is from one of our old contacts"

He continued...


"His behaviour was suspicious! He is not a good man, he had some criminal intentions! You should not back him! He might take away things from your home too!" bla bla bla

I said...

"Do you have any proof to your claim? You should not unnecessarily harass a person just because he was roaming around!"

Bablu da tried to defend himself. The man continued to shout until, I said

"Look! you imagination can not prove some one's guilt!"

"I can understand your concern, it is all right that you bring him to us for verification. Since, I am verifying that he has been working at us, I think it is better that you come down!"

The man kept shouting and then leave.

Bablu da reports that he had seen a rare grass type, often used for medicine, at one end of the road and he looked for it. The man came and without listening to him started shouting.

Evening call:
Kaleidscope's mother called to Dilip kaku in order to report the incident.

Kaleidoscope personally called Dilip kaku and then he listened that Dilip Kaku, although Knows Bablu da for quite long, but do not trust him. When kaleidoscope asks him "why? he is good man!"

The answer was "He is a Muslim!"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Commodities in "Co" words: the Habitus and the Continuity

Compatibility, co-operation, co-habitation and co-construction - in sum, words with "co" occupies important position in the each of the domesticated selves in and around the world of Kaleidoscope. These "co" words add newer dimensions, colours and textures to Kaleidoscope's world as well. Since, Kaleidoscope likes adding dimensions, colours and textures to life, he is expected to enjoy this part of his being.

(2012 World Press Photo Contest Winners: 1st Prize Daily Life Stories: Marco leads Monica from their bedroom to the living room in Buenos Aires. Monica was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Alejandro Kirchuk)

The problem is created by unrecognised entrance of invisible hands through reflecting mirrors of the shopping malls, sexy appearances of other beings everyday, everywhere, available better living devices: and the list is every increasing, multiplicity of options and supposedly taken for granted hike in ways of being. Kaleidoscope dislikes, hates, and yet adopts them at the expense of his deferring 'base' and ever procrastinating aims.

The core question is "Can he isolate the entangled invisible hands, co-words, and his presentable self  - in sum his habitus?" The answer is NO. "Is it possible for Kaleidoscope to overthrow the invisible hand?" the answer is most probably NO, "Can he manage to survive without the additional parts which would then be thrown away with the hand?" the answer is obviously NO.

It actually does not matter! 


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Interpretations and Experimentation on Knowledge Transfusion



Last few years Kaleidoscope keeps on working for transmitting his hodgepodge knowledge to his disciples. It has to be done in a concrete and meaningful way, so he has taken several resolutions with consequences:

First phase resolutions:

a) Make a list of items to be delivered.
b) Make a list of books to be referred to.
c) Make a list of handouts for them to ease their endeavour.
d) Deliver lectures with an attempt of making them understand what otherwise seems difficult.

Result of the first phase:

Kaleidoscope did not get any return of this endeavour. His disciples were reluctant to study those handouts written in English. They did not care for the list of books, or materials made available to them. The cheaper way was to seek private tuition from outside where pretty bad study materials on Bengali is made available.

Several seasonal birds called Kaleidoscope hours before examination, because they did not have study materials.

Second phase resolutions:
a) Make the study materials available online, hence www.sumananthromaterials.blogspot.com was formed.
b) Write on board whatever you are planning to present so that disciples can write them on their class note books and feel "ok this is important!"

c) Their weakness of English language has to have some solutions. Therefore, Kaleidoscope starts taking extra care and asked them to use dictionary and translate the words by themselves. Whatever seems difficult must be discussed in the class room.

Result of the second phase:

The blog has more viewer from United States than India.


Students rarely visit the blog posts. After a quick look at the class notes Kaleidoscope is awestruck. They are filled with incomplete sentences, frequent spelling mistakes, and often with sequential mistakes, i.e. diagrams meant for Evolutionsim falls under the heading of Diffusionism! None of the earlier disciples using Bengali as their medium of representations have changed, they kept representing cheap and often mistake filled private tuition notes in the examinations. Not much interactive sessions are evident.

Third phase resolutions:
Kaleidoscope increasingly understands two things, first, the impossibility of pulling out the entire bunch of disciples from their idiocracy. Some of his colleagues find Kaleidoscope as living in a idiocratic life as he can even think of doing that. The second thing, is that he is trying to transmit knowledge regarding the social - cultural world which is always taken for granted. Therefore, Kaleidoscope has to take some radical steps:
a) Make a list of movies, and movie clippings to be shown during the classes, which required preparation of the clippings.
b) Identify better performers and give them more material inputs. Hence, Kaleidoscope has to prepare a general handout for everybody, and then make photocopies of book chapters, books and ebooks available to them. So, along with the immense help from the HoD, the department now has a dedicated computer for students to use ebooks.
c) Kaleidoscope has to buy a USB speaker to show the movie clippings.

Result of the third phase:

Kaleidoscope wishes to mention two incidents:

Incident - I: e-mail from a student (improvement of language)

Sir,
I mate (read: meet) Nandini. She told me to mate (meet) her NGO workers so that I can initiate my intercourse (read: interaction) with the actual beneficiaries. Please help!

Warm regards,
XXXX

Incident - II: discussion with other teachers regarding "Gods Must be Crazy" (improvement of perceptions)

When one of Kaleidoscope's colleagues asked whether they have watched the movie "Gods Must be Crazy" or not. They replied "yes sir! SN sir showed us, the jeep which could not be stopped... the girl who was dropped to the water by the hero... the half naked group of people who were laughing meaninglessly!" None of them mentions about the originally intended comparison between Band (Gods Must be Crazy), Tribe (Apokalypto, hunting and ritual scenene), and urban life (Pursuit of Happyness).

The ray of hope:
A few disciples have started interacting, preparing list of unknown words and sentences. They are demanding more time and attention. Kaleidoscope, once again crosses his fingers.

See, if you are interested:

Carey, B. (May 12, 2011). Less talk, more action: Improving science learning. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/13/science/13teach.html

Hanford, E. (Jan. 1, 2012). Physicists seek to lose the lecture as a teaching tool. National Public Radio. http://www.npr.org/2012/01/01/144550920/physicists-seek-to-lose-the-lecture-as-teaching-tool

Moltz, D. (Nov. 18, 2009). 'The College Fear Factor'. Inside HigherEd.http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/11/18/fearfactor

Stearns, D. C. (2011). A teaching-centered career for the aspiring intellectual. In Bubb, R., Stowell, J., & Buskist, W. (Eds.). (2011). The Teaching of Psychology in Autobiography: Perspectives from Exemplary Psychology Teachers (Vol. 4). E-book on the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (APA Division 2) website. Retrieved fromhttp://teachpsych.org/ebooks/tia2011/index.php


   

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Space, Your Space and Blurring Boundaries


While Kaleidoscope increasingly disassociates himself from his research self, he finds it easier to maintain the balance between work and the world. However with this shortcut method the boundaries between his space and the space he shares with the rest of the world is increasingly becoming blurred. Whenever, he finds his research self lying somewhere in the corner, the requirement a clearer blurring boundary is felt strongly. So the meeting between Kaleidoscope and his research self takes on the following resolutions:
1. There should be a compartmentalisation between these two selves. The self which is Kaleidoscope should devote towards the rest of the world and the Research self with the research.
2. Even if the demands of the two are contradictory and hard to meet, both the self should try to do their best to compensate each other.
3. Whenever, Kaleidoscope is travelling towards his workplace, he must allow his research self to make most out of it.

This results in sleepless nights... tiring bodies... headache... anxiety... Furthermore, none of the purposes are served effectively.


... now its no more "don't worry"

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shaving cream, socialisation and the lack of it

Kaleidoscope has been constantly testing his energy level with never ending answer scripts filled with  meaningless words to be evaluated, things to read which he has been procrastinating since he is aware that  reading is important, coast to coast travels, lectures, notes, downloaded books, facebookish friend sphere and regular updates. Each of the tests involves a constant maintenance of his presentable being. Hence, he has to prepare, create and recreate his self often in accordance with the demands made by the structural forces he often thinks absent.

So here it goes...

Kaleidoscope thinks of going out with himself - he just goes out to shoot!

Kaleidoscope thinks of going out to present himself - he shaves, looks at the wardrobe with an attempt of not repeating clothes so as to avoid wardrobe malfunction - thinks of what to say and what not to say - prepares - presents - in sum Socialises...

Anti-Socialise?
Is is anti? should it be called as un?... perhaps none... Why?
Because even when Kaleidoscope shoots... he looks for a space to share it! So the Facebook survives. He often adds effects, so, presentation survives... Kaleidoscope likes to receive more Likes... therefore, socialisation survives....

Yeah, thats a oops! moment...

The question is which one of the Kaleidoscopes is expendable?

Well even if the answer is not sure... Kaleidoscope knows the most probable answer is NONE...

and that is another oops!! 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Place, Space and Body: a Matter of Concern



Kaleidoscope stays about a kilometer away from major road and rail connectivity. He had no grumble against it. His “walk… walk… walk” destinity was a matter of being in the world. However, recent changes in the never ending urbanization process have made it possible to access newly build Belghoria Express way which is a three minutes of walk from home. Now Kaleidoscope can throw a funny bone to the queen as her world always involved quicker access to Jessor road and VIP road!

Hmmm it’s Express:


Expressway is dark, in fact pitch black after the dusk and is aided with several incidents of murdersBoth sides of the road there are high rise buildings coming up and hence it is not a place for roaming around. Excepting office-time when boarding a bus from the expressway is like fighting for Olympic gold medal, the rest of the time it’s empty and filled with people gambling for the whole day. Therefore, it is the place to be avoided by the queen in absence of Kaleidoscope. Even when Kaleidoscope is accompanying the queen they are to avoid the place after dusk. Even if Kaleidoscope is travelling alone, he should avoid the place after 19:30.


The girl of my college, the girl of my neighbourhood, the girl of my life: three isolated cases


Kaleidoscope’s and in fact everybody’s favourite student, who gives a shocking experience to all the teachers for being a) regular, b) attentive, c)sincere, d) conscience. Additionally she speaks softly and asks questions in otherwise one-way deliberations. She stopped asking questions for the last couple of weeks and this week she stopped answering. Big reason to worry! As Kaleidoscope speaks in private she narrates the repeated threats from one of the local boys as she refused his relationship proposal. The boy happens to be a students’ union leader. So, now she cannot travel alone, she can barely concentrate in studies. She is afraid of conveying this message to her parents as that might put an end to her academic career! Medusa, Kaleidoscope’s colleague is also concerned with this matter. She devotes a blog entry 

Another girl, my neighbour, virtually grownup at our house, is now grownup, still in school, travels alone and hence, is a target for many. She is proposed, harassed, and now needs her mother to accompany her whenever she goes out.

And now the queen narrates all her fears of going to the unknown places, especially places that instigates strong sixth sense! It was a matter Kaleidoscope hardly understood earlier, especially during his college life and afterwards, but now he can make sense of what the sixth sense means. In fact, Kaleidoscope too can now feel there is something, some sense, and some events, no matter how careless and accidental it may seem in public places. There are hands, legs and body that transcend the private-public boundaries for pleasure. No one knows how long that lasts.

The broad spectrum and linkages:

One of the most shocking videos released recently is a long and detailed recording of a gang molestation incident in Guwahati. It reflects on the crimes, which requires a complex response from administration, law and society. We can easily recall the Pinki Pramanik’s case  where she was ‘handled’ by male police officers. We can recall the park street rape case which experiences an unintended politicization. and as part of the process media was accused to cook up the story. For the last several months the country and especially our state is experiencing an unprecedented rise of crime, especially the crime against woman. West Bengal in 2011 climbs up the ladder of “crime against women” rank.Kaleidsocope, like many others finds connections in
1.       Abuse at home.

2.   Khap Diktats: where caste panchayat’s decisions for banning women in UP from going      out and using mobile phone is approved
3.     Honour killing
4.     Dowry related deaths:
5.     Son preference and female feticide.
6.     Female body and advertisements

7.     Concerns for women dress pattern and their free movements that calls for rape!

Kaleidoscope and his avoiding selves:


Kaleidoscope lives in the same world where the interconnected issues are pertinent. Therefore, Kaleidoscope maintains which places to avoid at which time especially when he is with the queen. He has his recommendations for the queen on similar issues. In deep inside he feels the same helplessness while he questions the very foundation of “unsafe”. Kaleidoscope knows what the question is and what question is to be asked. When he suggests the queen to avoid certain places at certain times, and evade the question, “why should that place be unsafe?” he relives, reinforces and reconstructs the world which otherwise he always hates to live in.