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The Propaganda Legacy?

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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
 Jadavpur Univ  366  395  140
 Shibpore IIEST  1050  623  607
 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
Bombay/Mumbai 75 91
Delhi 130 270
Guwahati 1367 2131 1973
Kanpur 280 590
Kharagpur 429 921 729
Madras/Chennai 240 539
Roorkee 961 1681 1293
BHU 1849 2799 2684

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 –

WB JEE – Jadavpur, BEC, Kalyani

IITs.

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 –

Growth of Indian IT Sector - BusinessWeek

Growth of Indian IT Sector – BusinessWeek

Indian Software Exports - Univ of Manchester

Indian Software Exports – Univ of Manchester

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Written by Diganta

February 16, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Remembering Comrades in West Bengal

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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 MassacreBijon 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” !!

Written by Diganta

December 21, 2012 at 10:55 am

Posted in Bengali, West Bengal

Tagged with , , , ,

Bangla Blogs – now in India

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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 –

  1. Coffeehouseradda.com
  2. Lotakambal.com

Happy Blogging !!!!

Written by Diganta

September 12, 2009 at 9:19 am

Posted in Bangladesh, Bengali, India

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Creationism against Evolution

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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.

I have started blogging in Bengali and I must say I enjoy it. Somewherein blog is a unique experience. I am looking forward to more and more Science related topics to be posted in the Bengali blog.

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.

Written by Diganta

July 25, 2007 at 8:02 am

How the Religion has Evolved

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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.

Written by Diganta

July 16, 2007 at 7:54 am

My Bengali Article on Dawkins’ Letter

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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.

Written by Diganta

July 4, 2007 at 5:19 am

My Bengali Writings

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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.

Written by Diganta

June 18, 2007 at 8:46 am

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