Archive for the ‘Bengali’ Category
There used to be a time when it was said that what Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow. Post independence West Bengal was the first state to adopt computers. In fact, Indian Statistical Institute and Jadavpur University were the first institutes to offer a course in Computer Science way back in 1968. The same institute started country’s first computer center back in 1962.
Almost the same time West Bengal saw mass protests against computerization. The trade unions opposed introduction of computers at any cost. The power of trade unions grew massively in the following decades, resulting in an early death of any software industries in West Bengal. The propaganda created to uproot “computerization” lived in popular memory. IBM left India back in 1977 due to such policies. (Read Luddite fallacies and know why it is wrong.)
Back in 1997, when I was to get into an university after my successful Joint Entrance campaign, I faced a dilemma. Given my rank, I would not have got into either of Computer Science or the Electronics in Jadavpur. But the rest of the options (including the NITs) were kind of open to me. I swayed between JU Mechanical, Bengal Engineering College (now Bengal Engineering and Science Univ or IIEST, Shibpore) Electronics or Computer Science. I asked for opinions from several people – teachers, servicemen and prospective students. Almost everyone asked me not to go for Computer studies. They thought I will run into trouble getting jobs as the field is “saturated” and there are no plan B options since Govt jobs don’t require Computer Engineers. Some others told me that Electronics field will have more research opportunities as it is the “mother” subject. A few said that Computer Science is not even an Engineering stream. I chose to study Computer Science after a few hiccups and that was probably one of the best thing happened to my life. 16 years later when I see careers of my friends and try to analyze the arguments, I don’t see any justification for any of them.
Not everyone is as lucky as I was. In WBJEE counselling (seat choice system), the seats for Electronics and Telecommunications (ETC) or Electrical Engineering (EE) get exhausted earlier due to higher demand from top ranked students. The arguments those drive the students away from Computer Science (CS) are probably still the same. However, in between, Indian Software industry grew exponentially. Let’s look at data from last year WBJEE counselling (2011) -
|University||CS Closing Rank||EE Closing Rank||ETC Closing Rank|
|Kalyani Engg College||2356||1684||1807|
What’s the pan India trend? Let’s look at the data from IITs (2012) -
|IIT||CS Closing Rank||EE Closing Rank||ETC/EC Closing Rank|
Now it clearly shows, Computer Science seats gets exhausted earlier than the other streams.
So, now the question becomes – why does West Bengal defy the trend? They will eventually compete in the same pan-Indian job market (which is again increasingly globalized) and preference to a particular subject should be almost global or at least pan-Indian. The fact that West Bengal defies the trend is amazing!
I believe the answer to this trend can be found in the propaganda legacy that were run in West Bengal against computerization. Computer is an “evil” and take jobs away from common people – was the notion and there were strong propaganda created to defend this. Along with that, inward-looking attitude among parents in West Bengal and lack of courage to take a bold decision matters as well. In a sense, West Bengal is stuck in 1970s and is not being able to adopt a new burgeoning India. The sooner we brake this trend-defiance, the better it is.
Data Source -
One can try out a few years and I have already eyeballed the data – it’s basically the same.
Jyoti Basu (CM of West Bengal) profile in Wiki talks about his “initial support of trade unions against the use of computers”.
The growth chart of Indian Software Industry -
I left West Bengal in the year 2004. 8 years later, when I write up something about that very Bengal, it probably will not sound very realistic. But I never felt that I lost touch of where I belong to. Actually, it’s my ultimate alma-mater and I search for my soul in the lights of what I learnt there.
Writing on politics was never on my priority list. But some recent events forced me to do so. The recent conditions in West Bengal after the “Paribartan” indicates a lot of ground to improve. The law and order situation reminds us why we can’t dream of any modernization right now. After the Singur setback, we lost hope for any manufacturing industry in our province.
Yet I believe that “Paribartan” is good for West Bengal. Not probably because the deteriorating rule-of-law, but since we ended a monopoly. A stability with monopoly, especially a long-lasting one, is more harmful than a competitive instability. The former changes mindset of people, sometimes permanently, and forces people to adapt to malpractices. The latter causes loses due to instability, but makes up offering more choices to people. More often than not, the recovery from a monopoly is violent and often negates the so-called benefits of “stability”. Every action, after all, will leave some reactions. Be it the East European communists or the African dictators – the monopolistic regimes were uprooted differently but their removal led to a period of instability.
Communists in West Bengal ran a monopoly, not only in the Govt., but in every section of society. Let me start with some instances of violence. I grew up in Burdwan hearing about the Sainbari Murder (more gruesome account) where a couple of the main accused served the Communist Govt for long term. The trial could not be completed as the Left Front government withdrew the case after coming to power in 1977. In 2011 when Probe Panel was re-established, however, Leftists accused it on political vendetta. That was not a sporadic incident. The comrades took recourse to violence over-and-over from time-to-time when they were in power and subsequently justified it. The Marichjhapi Massacre, Bijon Setu Massacre, Muluk Massacre, Nanoor Massacre to Choto Angaria - none is less shameful than anything happening in recent days. For the last two cases, the CPM members were convicted but the party shamelessly defended them and appealed the verdicts. In case of top leaders such as Sushanta Ghosh, they mixed threat with violence against the victims. The climax was the violence in Nandigram.
That was just the account of violence. The de-industrialization of Bengal during the last couple of decades in West Bengal was noticeable. In the name of worker protection, how the capital was pushed out of the West Bengal – is successfully shown in a paper presented by Timothy Besley at London School of Economics. The same time when China successfully industrialized with massive labor migration from rural areas, Basu’s communist party took all opportunities away from villagers and provided them with an unsustainable stability. There were none to challenge our Comrades when they took English away from schools.
Once industry was out of Bengal, the only available job was that of Govt. Comrades filled up all of the positions from their ranked cadres, sometimes based on party affiliation. Based on their long standing monopoly, everyone was soon aware that they have to join, support or show affiliation towards comrades in order to secure a decent future, except a few “genius”-es. The Bengali middle class, searching for stability and non-accountability in a Govt. job, distanced themselves from the opposition Congress and later the TMC. Congress and TMC filled their positions with goons or “left-overs”, who are causing havoc today. To garner a full political party with an ideology and direction is a task that Mamata Banerjee is dealing with. She may prove to be no better than comrades, but we can wait and watch.
When stability becomes monopoly, the consequences are long-lasting. The changes that the comrades brought about in West Bengal will be felt in decades following them. The “Paribartan” was required as we needed to break the monopoly. It was needed since there are people who doesn’t subscribe to some certain fraction of people, needed some voice. If it doesn’t work, comrades will be back. It may happen in 10 years or in 5 years. But not with their monopoly. Neither with an assumption of mandate in every election. Bengal wants Leftists, either in opposition or in the Govt. But Bengal doesn’t want monopolists. People have won. Monopolists are defeated. That’s “Paribartan” !!
I saw a couple of them are coming up for bloggers of West Bengal. So far, Bangla blogging was an effort by bloggers Bangladesh and all blogging sites were hosted by Bangladesh groups. New efforts by Bangla speaking people in India won’t probably bring in competition since Bangladesh is far ahead in this area. I hope this would add a lot of quality materials in web.
Having said that, I must add that there were no troubles for Indians to write in Bangladesh blogs. They generally accommodate everyone cordially. Apart from core Indian political issues, almost every other Indian topics are also discussed in these blogs. I have been writing in quite a few of them and I am happy with them. The one hosted by a group of enthusiasts at sachalayatan.com stands out to be the best in the group, though somewhereinblog.com is the most popular one.
Welcome to the league -
Happy Blogging !!!!
I am done with my Bengali article on the same. The article is published in the site of Mukto-Mona. I have, however, received mails on ‘not being rational’ on the specific topic. I deny this allegation. I have taken stance against any divine interference in the evolution of the species and the diversity on the Earth. The Evolution is a natural process and a well-established fact. I am only trying to guide the readers to know more about it, so that they can refute the allegations against it.
So far I haven’t got any updates from China story. However, I am planning to launch one more in the next weekend. Till then, bye.
I have written a new article in Mukto-mona on the roots of the religion. The article is basically adapted from The God Delusion - chapter 5 (The Roots of the Religion), where Dawkins discusses about the evolutionary roots of the religion. I liked this particular chapter the most while reading the book and I am happy to contribute something on this. I also added the comments of David Wilson on Group Selection since I did not want to put one sided view.
Mukto-mona is now unicoded. So, no need to download the pdfs for reading my article.
Next, I am writing on Creationism and how evolution is refuting all the claims by creationists. I am willing to cover ancient and modern day creation myths and show with analytical and experimental analysis of the same. I will update the blog once I am done.
My third bengali article also got published at Mukto-Mona yesterday. The topic was the Dawkins’ letter to his daughter, that I have discussed previously. There are a few good Bengali Articles present in the same site. I would recommend one to read Avijit Roy’s “Amader Kajer Swikriti” (Recognition of our work), that covers a brief history of atheism along with a history of struggles those Mukto-mona had gone through. The context of the article is the receipt of Jahanara Imam Memorial award, that is given for encouraging free thinking in society. Congatulations to Mukto-mona!!
Coming back to the article, I tried to change the context of the letter so that it becomes acceptable to the public in general, especially to the people of South Asia. I have mentioned the examples (castes and dogmas) to suit South Asian readers.
My next assignment is foing to be a translation of one of my all time favourites – The God Delusion. The first chapter of the same book has already been translated and kept in the mukto-mona site. I am trusted with the translation of at least one chapter from the same. I am planning to take the same route – replace the original examples with the South Asian ones. Given that a Bengali reader is going to be most probably from this region, it’s my responsibility to make the translation smooth to him. An overdose of references to the Catholic Church and their activities might not get a warm welcome from people here.
Once I am done, I will definitely come up with the same in my blog.
All my Bengali writings will be available at the mukto-mona site now onwards. I have also written on Meme and Memetics as my second article. One can visit and read the pdfs if he/she knows Bengali. It’s great to write in mother-tongue. Thanks to Avijitda, Mukto-mona and Bornosoft to make it happen. I am targetting to write up a few articles while in China. The news is – I’m leaving for Shanghai on 23rd night.
In his interview, Dawkins said about child-indoctrination and why he considers it as a child-abuse. He also mentioned that a true education of children should include teaching of all kinds of religion, including atheism. Also, they should be encouraged to have a critical view on religion, if they wish to. However, he did not actually mention how that kind of education will look like. In his letter to his 10 year old daughter Juliet, I can see a glimpse of that scientific education.
Dawkins classified belief into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories. He tries to answer the critical question on why anybody should ‘believe’ in science. He explains what is evidence and how carefully science gather it. He then cited three other popular reasons for belief – “tradition,” “authority,” and “revelation.” He presented examples for all these and explained how they might drift one away from truth. He didn’t only talk about religion, but also about language and other traditions. In the end he separates out the knowledge of “revelation”, “tradition” and “authority” from the knowledge out of evidences and guided her to choose knowledge-resources carefully.
I cannot but quote a few lines from his letter. A wonderful similarity between detectives and the scientists are the way the find out evidences. Dawkins says :
“Often, evidence isn’t just an observation on its own, but observation always lies at the back of it. If there’s been a murder, often nobody (except the murderer and the victim!) actually observed it. But detectives can gather together lots or other observations which may all point toward a particular suspect. If a person’s fingerprints match those found on a dagger, this is evidence that he touched it. It doesn’t prove that he did the murder, but it can help when it’s joined up with lots of other evidence. Sometimes a detective can think about a whole lot of observations and suddenly realise that they fall into place and make sense if so-and-so did the murder.“
He even classified ‘love’ based on evidence and without evidence. He said :
“There are people with a strong inside feeling that a famous film star loves them, when really the film star hasn’t even met them. People like that are ill in their minds. Inside feelings must be backed up by evidence, otherwise you just can’t trust them.“
And of course on child-indoctrination :
“It’s a pity, but it can’t help being the case, that because children have to be suckers for traditional information, they are likely to believe anything the grown-ups tell them, whether true or false, right or wrong. … Millions of other people believe quite different things, because they were told different things when they were children. Muslim children are told different things from Christian children, and both grow up utterly convinced that they are right and the others are wrong.“
Of course his most valuable guidance to her daughter comes with :
“And, next time somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: “What kind of evidence is there for that?” And if they can’t give you a good answer, I hope you’ll think very carefully before you believe a word they say.“
I am trying to translate it in Bengali. In case I am done, I will update this blog to have that link too. Till then read the finest English letter from Richard Dawkins – the smartest intellectual.
Update : The Bengali version of the letter (not addressed to the Dawkins’ daughter ).
For the first time I am writing in Bengali on the topics I cover in my blog. It’s a great experience to write in mother tongue. The article, already published in the mukto-mona site, is again on the interview of Richard Dawkins. I was always skeptic about my Bengali writing skill, but ultimately somehow managed to produce something. One of the questions was eventually dropped from the translation since I was unable to get a fitting Bengali translation for ‘compartmentalize’. I am really thankful to my wife for helping me out in crtical translations – she again proved that Bangladeshi Bengalis have superior control over Bengali. Thanks to Avijit Roy of Mukto-Mona for publishing my article. And of course thanks a lot to the Bengali word processing software, Bornosoft. It’s really interesting to know that this excellent word editor (download the free version) has been developed by someone who is a doctor by profession!!
Coming back to my writing, I am planning to write up an article on Daniel Dennett’s view of Atheism. Also, I am eager to write about DNA stuff I am reading from the books of James Watson. I would also write on brain and consciousness inspired by a book from V. S. Ramachandran. This time, I have to write in Bengali too. May be it will add a few extra hours of work in my weekend, but the pleasure I derive from the writing is priceless.
For next couple of months, I am going to stay at Shanghai, China. During the visit, I am planning to concentrate on China specific topics, especially on Chinese culture. I am already a little bit worried about the Chinese food and work-culture. Yet, nothing is wrong if I hope for the best !!
While I write on Richard Dawkins and Evolution in my blog, a group named mukto-mona have taken up their pens to write up in Bengali. It’s great to see people scribing for Atheism and Dawkins in Bengali. Let me refer you all to some of the best resources available in Bengali.
1) The first chapter of The God Delusion.
2) A book on Evolution by Bonnya Ahmed – continued for multiple chapters. It is also available as a book at Bangladesh Ekushe Boimela.
3) A Richard Dawkins article on Religion and Evolution.
4) The Journey of Science to find Life – An excellent write up on modern science (especially focussing on the roots of Universe and what is Life) starting from Big Bang to Extraterrestrial life, divided into multiple parts.
The life of Charles Darwin is described in Bengali.
And of course, anybody want to publish their views in Bengali, can send it to them or join a yahoo group called mukto-mona. There are numerous good articles both in English and Bengali published at the site. I bet that anybody will enjoy most of them. To a Bengali living in West Bengal, I would recommend these article since they should know how close they are to someone living accross the border – in Bangladesh.