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. 


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 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)

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,

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.

Hanford, E. (Jan. 1, 2012). Physicists seek to lose the lecture as a teaching tool. National Public Radio.

Moltz, D. (Nov. 18, 2009). 'The College Fear Factor'. Inside HigherEd.

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 from


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...

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.