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Calcutta Diary

September 30, 1972 Calcutta Diary A M THE World Peace Council was in town last week. Or was it the Afro-Asian Solidarity Conference? Does it really matter whether it was the one or the other? The composition of the two bodies must be almost identical. They pass the same resolutions, they display the .same portfolio of cliches. Their source of funds, one conjectures, cannot but be the same. The predictable array of shop-worn faces, the predictable array of set reactions to issues. The fire has gone out: these are the burnt-out cases. Do not remind them of Julius Fuchik; do not ask them if they still remember who the Rosenbergs were; why embarrass them by inquiring, a little too deeply, what, according to them, is the content of peace, or of solidarity among the struggling peoples around the world? By and large, these are smug, intensely self-satisfied people. The Soviet Union has prospered in the course of the past twenty years; so have they. These front organisations, which behave as if peace and international brotherhood are categories copyrighted by them, are flush with funds; they have their affiliating units nearly everywhere; seminars and conferences are their familiar stock-in-trade; people meet, people travel in delegations, people sing paeans of praise for the Soviet Union and whoever is or arc currently politically chummy with that country: the Soviet Union is-in Heaven, and all is right with the world. For the Indian functionaries of these bodies, this year there is a particular after-glow. The Indo-Soviet Treaty is talked of in hushed tones: it is such a pristinely glorious thing, it is that most Utopian of dreams suddenly come true; India, their own country India, is now a bonded, treaty- bound friend of the great Soviet Union. The sincerest of tears well up in their eyes.

Calcutta Diary

September 23, 1972 strength of the dollar, as reflected by the US balance of payments. Unless the wide US balance of payments gap disappears without much delay, the official dollar holdings of other countries would continue to swell and the dollar would soon get branded as "bad money" both as a medium of exchange and as a store of value. The US has made it abundantly clear that there is no question of the dollar being made convertible until it has achieved a sizeable payments surplus. In this situation, all the comfort that the IMF report offers is that the realignment of currencies resulting from the Smithsonian agreement, "will, in due course, lead to the restoration of international payments equilibrium

Calcutta Diary

young men and women, who have no notion how to start small industries, who are still keen to get bank finance for creative ventures which, they will try to convince you, have economic possibilities? They have never gone to a technical school, but they have painted, they have .sculpted, they have written poetry, they have composed plays and organised threatre workshops, they have ventured into folk operas and have tried on their own, to take these to the countryside where there is always an intent, ready clientele. There is no lack of imagination among these young men and women. It would be a libel to suggest that they are unwilling to work. They labour hard along the lines their genius has guided them; but, at the end of it all, there is a pervading feeling of hopelessness.

Calcutta Diary

within it. The former will create jobs for the educated unemployed while the latter will absorb the underemployed and the unemployed in the countryside. Finally, to prevent inflation from cheating us the prices of articles of common consumption must be stabilised.

Calcutta Diary

Calcutta Diary A M THE Congress model for West Bengal has on the surface a charming simplicity: by hook or crook, keep the CPM at bay for a few years; meanwhile, enforce industrial peace by encouraging trade union activity of a kind which will invariably lean for support on the Government and the employers; accelerate the pace of industrial investment, by both persuading the tycoons and direct government outlays; ask the banks and other public financial institutions to back the effort; in agriculture, while maintaining the radical stance on such issues as land reform, keep the jotedars happy by ensuring larger supplies of power, irrigation water as well as credit; in the political sphere, capture the non- ideological Naxalite rump and utilise their pathological hatred toward the CPM to attack and immobilise the intermediate cadres of that party; Bangladesh being the emotional booty it is, urge the newspapers to exploit the theme to the hilt for building an appropriate image of the Prime Minister. For the organised

Calcutta Diary

precedent: the taking over of the Congress party in this state by the youth in the course of the past two years. Of course, Subhas Bose was well below thirty when he shot into prominence in provincial, and national, politics in the 1930s, But, then, he belonged to a unique genre: the offspring of a rich family, one who had voluntarily resigned from the Indian Civil Service when the charisma that service commanded was still all-pervading, one who had also been to Cambridge and had stunningly good looks. In a milieu where political leadership, almost as a matter of prerogative, belonged to the upper class quasi- feudal quasi-professional categories, the dazzling rise of Subhas Bose was almost inevitable, very nearly an act of nature. Even so, his ascendancy in the Congress was not coterminous with the capture of the party machinery by the general mass of youth. By and large, gerontocracy continued to be the rule in the Congress hierarchy. Subhas Bose, being Subhas Bose, was of course accommodated; otherwise, the Congress, till very recently was firmly under the control of wily veterans; young men and women were always found useful, as much by Atulya Ghosh as by B C Roy, but only as volunteers and cheer-leaders. Come the season for elections, in the campaigning for votes and in the performance of other essential chores, young brats were much in demand. Even so, social distance was social distance; the services rendered by the young enthusiasts were duly appreciated' and all that; politics however was serious business. The functioning of the party was directed by the old stalwarts; the young ones, who would flock in whenever the call went out from the party, would be offered recompense so that they could have games and fun; they were not supposed to ask any questions After all, it was the landlords

Calcutta Diary

A M QUIETLY, one night last week, from Mowrah, they took the train to New Delhi, about ninety of them altogether, most of them past sixty, several of them much, much older. Tired, listless old men, a smattering of old women; who will imagine that they had, ever, the fire in them, the fire that had set so many rivers of revolutionary emotion on fire? A measly-looking special train took them to the capital; they

Calcutta Diary

FOR one returning to this city after tin interval of almost six years, the initial emotion is one of bafflement. There is scarcely much change either in the contours or in the outlying landscape. The buildings look gloomier; with each successive year, the quality of maintenance has gone down further. All around, grey remains the overwhelming colour, as it was even in the past. The sense of decay is also fairly pervasive, despite multi-storied co-operative apartments popping up here and there. A certain stirring following the induction of the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority is there; but, till now, its impact has not assumed the form of a qualitative leap. The major emphasis in the CMDA's activities is on expanding water supply and sewerage and on road improvement. Inevitably, a lot of bulldozing and burrowing is taking place everywhere. A hiatus is however fast developing: the CMDA's rate of chewing and rate of swallowing, it is obvious, are disequilibrated. In introductory courses on growth economics, one sometimes comes across an explanation of the inordinately high magnitude of the capital-output ratio in Latin American economies: a whole range of projects are taken on hand simultaneously; given the gap in technical talent and managerial ability, the process of completion for each of these projects gets elongated as a result, some are even abandoned in midstream; final output therefore tends to be low in relation to aggregate investment. Something similar, it seems, is occurring in Calcutta. Over large areas of the city, one is told, roads were dug up during April-May for laying bigger and better water and sewerage pipes; but the work could not be completed before the middle of June, the monsoon was threatening to break over the city any day, the prospect of large-scale water-logging turned the authorities numb with panic, many of the holes were therefore hastily filled back. Since the job of pipe-laying remains unfinished, there will presumably be a repetition of the entire; process from October, re-digging to be followed by re-filling.

A Year without Sachin Chaudhuri

December 23. 1967 Security Council resolutions while, at the same time, taking his Government and party off the hook of earlier commitments. This has happened before

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