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.


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.


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"