Archive for the ‘West Bengal’ 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 –
IPL is big.
IPL is big in terms of revenue, glamour, supporter-craze and of course in terms of cricketing excellence. The cricket crazy nation of India has probably never seen such a good domestic tournament so far – in any sports.
How popular is IPL? What percentage of popularity of cricket is actually driven by IPL? I started thinking about these questions after talking to grandfather of my kid’s mate. He’s Polish and lives in a village. But, IPL is one of his favorite sporting pass-time, apart from watching soccer. He’s still not so crazy about cricket but was able to tell me about KKR, Shahrukh Khan, Sunil Narine and what not. He enjoys the thrilling finish of T-20 games. But, to the contrary, he doesn’t watch normal ODI cricket.
IPL makes BCCI rich. Prior to IPL, majority(85% as of my latest knowledge) of revenues of all ICC tournaments were equally divided among the member nations. So, all countries were in a sense equal. IPL disrupted the same. They turned that equation upside down. Since IPL stands as Indian domestic league – BCCI pockets the profit from this tournament. That made BCCI one of the richest cricket boards.
That takes me to my first infographic that shows how IPL is climbing the ladder of popularity. Below is the search trend of two keywords – IPL and Cricket. The red one is cricket and the blue one is IPL.
Worldwide the interest around cricket is growing – but not at the same pace of that of IPL. IPL is a seasonal phenomenon and at its peak, it has overtaken interest on cricket in 2012.
If we concentrate only within India, we’ll see similar phenomenon replicated albeit IPL gaining more prominence compared to Cricket.
IPL is dominating cricket in India.
But don’t miss the point. The pinnacle of all these is the world cup winning moment of India. The IPL peak is hardly 60% of it. So, even though IPL slowly taking over cricketing phenomenon of India, the World Cup stays in its place.
IPL is most popular in West Bengal – probably justifying the recent success of KKR as a team.
I think its safe to comment that except a very few selected tournaments (such as World Cups), IPL is going to be the most popular cricket tournament in the coming decades. Whether it would enrich Indian cricket or not is a different question and I am not too hopeful on that right now. But the status of stature of IPL as a cricket tournament can only rise in coming future. Any opposition?
N.B. – Click on the images to visit the google trends for those keywords.
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” !!
This is often debated at various different forums and studies. To be truthful, neither India nor Bangladesh can afford to have a proper documentation in place in order to count the number of migrants. So, there’s always a place for right wing political leaders to exploit the facts and try to use their own statistics to gain political mileage.
In India, the lack of documentation and the ethnic similarity between Indian and Bangladeshi population creates trouble in getting close to any actual figure. The most reliable figure produced from Indian side is from the Census report. It reports the number of people of Bangladeshi origin (i.e. place of birth is in Bangladesh) to be 3.08 million (Total 5.1 million and 2.5 million in West Bengal). So, this becomes the official figure of Bangladeshis living in India. However, one should remember that India had treaties with Pakistan and subsequently with independent Bangladesh to legalize Bangladeshis in India who entered the country before 25th March, 1971. Most of these population had actually migrated to India before 1971 and thus they are legal Indian citizens now. My father, who migrated to India in 1967, falls under this category.
A more detailed look at the same data provides some detailed insight. The number of Bangladeshis who migrated to India (thus deemed to be illegal) in last 20 years amount to around 880,000 among whom 600,000 came between 1981 and 1991, where only 280,000 came between 1991 and 2001. This drop of 53% can clearly be explained by growth of Bangladesh economy and establishment of democracy in Bangladesh.
There are a couple of caveats in the census data. The first one is that the data is voluntary, i.e. the chances of cross-referencing or verification of claimed country of birth is clearly very low. So, it totally relies with census official, who sometimes is convinced to change the country of origin and put them as internal migrants (or vice versa). It is understandable that a lot of migrants won’t be willing to disclose their country of origin. On the other hand, census official may put anything on their country of origin, merely by suspecting their origin. More often, a recent immigrant can always claim that he/she has actually migrated only a few years back, a technique used by most of my relatives who moved over in late 1980s. West Bengal, the Indian state that culturally resembles Bangladesh, has the majority of Bangladesh immigrants, amounting around 75-80% of them.
There are many incidents where an Indian Bengali is identified as a Bangladeshi, especially in Mumbai and Delhi. A report was published by Irfan Engineer on this issue where he identified a lot of similar cases. A tug of war between Govt of Maharashtra and West Bengal initiated in 1998 when a set of people to be deported were identified to be Bengalis of West Bengal.
There are couple of other official sources of data. The number of Chakmas living in Arunachal Pradesh is 60,000. However, they are granted Indian citizenship in 2004 and the Election Commission subsequently started enrolling them as voters.
The statistics on deportation is also interesting. The Supreme Court of India struck down the IMDT Act in Assam in 2005. Citing documentation, the court said that 489,046 persons were deported between 1983 and November 1998 from West Bengal under the Foreigners’ Act. On the contrary, IMDT was able to deport only 10,000 persons although 300,000 more allegations were in process.
A word of caution for whoever reads too much into the Foreigners’ Act because it is used not only for deporting illegal entrants, but also persons who overstayed in India. Unless we have a detailed documentation or break up on who was deported for what, any conclusion from this data can be misleading. Due to bureaucracy, a lot of Bangladeshis who come to visit India have to overstay as getting long term Indian visa is a nightmare for them.
That brings us to the conclusion – getting Bangladeshis to India legally should solve a lot of illegal immigration. A quota for Bangladeshi qualified engineers to have work visa for a certain period is absolutely necessary. The visa process for Bangladeshis who come to India for education or health should be eased. Along with all these, the improvement of economic and democratic processes in Bangladesh should reduce the flow of migrants.
I believe everyone, who want India to have a better relationship with Bangladesh, is following the recent bonhomie between India and Bangladesh. Bangladesh did their best possible to hand over Indian separatists and allowing India to use ports in Bangladesh. The much-debated transit deal is also on its way. But the question that is asked now – what is the return? In an era of selfish-for-own-people foreign policy, everyone wants their equation to look as healthy as possible. However, the red-tape and Indian constitution are the two most obstacles in improving the pay-back. How? The details follow …
1. Brief about Tista (Teesta in Bangladesh)
The River Teesta or Tista is said to be the lifeline of the Indian state of Sikkim, flowing for almost the entire length of the state and carving out verdant Himalayan temperate and tropical river valleys. The emerald-coloured river then forms the border between Sikkim and West Bengal before joining the Brahmaputra as a tributary in Bangladesh. Total length of the river is 315 kilometres. The river crosses 97 km in Indian plains before it enters into the extreme northwest region of Bangladesh. It flows about 124 km in Bangladesh and joins Brahmaputra River.
2. Brief about dispute
The idea of using the Teesta River for irrigation for the betterment of the people is as old as the British period. During the 1950s, the then East Pakistani authorities intimated the Indian authorities regarding the Teesta Project in her territory. After the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, talks on the Teesta water sharing continued in the Indo-Bangladesh Joint River Commission. Bangladesh objected to India’s plan to divert the water of the Teesta to the Mahanada basin area. The talks continued without any result until 1983, when the two parties reached an adhoc allocation agreement, according to which India was to get 39 percent, Bangladesh 36 percent and the remaining 25 percent was to be reserved for reallocation later, after further study. However, even this agreement has not been executed and the amount of dry season water on the Bangladesh side has gradually decreased.
3. Barrages in dispute
The Dalia Barrage is the largest irrigation project in Bangladesh. It stands across the Teesta River at Doani-Dalia point in the Lalmonirhat district of Bangladesh. The barrage was completed successfully in August 1990 and its operation commenced in 1993.
The Gazoldoba Barrage stands across the same Teesta River in the Jalpaiguri district of India.India had started to construct a barrage at Gazoldoba, which began to be used for irrigation in 1993.
4. Talks, Discussions …
The high level committee of JRC in both India and Bangladesh sat for meetings about 33 times for the Teesta water problem but no fruitful decisions were made. Dhaka and Delhi have been discussing the Teesta sharing issue since 1972.
5. Proposal from Bangladesh
Bangladesh wants to split the water at 50:50 ratio at the Indian barrage to have an ensured supply of half of the water during dry season. The proposal also considers to keep 20% of the water for environmental flow.In other words – the draft proposed that Bangladesh and India each would get 40 percent water of the Teesta and 20 percent water would go to Bay of Bengal (via Brahmaputra) for maintaining the channel of the river.
6. Proposal from India
India prefers keeping only 10 percent for the river. Moreover, India wants other factors to be taken into account before distributing water of these rivers. In the case of Teesta, 85 percent of agricultural land served by the river was in India and the remaining 15 per cent in Bangladesh. So, India wants water to split in that ratio. The ratio of catchment area are also another point mentioned in the argument.
7. The role of Indian Constitution
Indian constitution offers the sovereignty of water resources (and irrigation too) to the State, in this case West Bengal. As per various newspaper reports, Indian Govt is keen on resolving the water issue almost at par with Bangladesh offer. But West Bengal refuses because the consequences will directly affect them and not the rest of the country.
To explain more on this, Indian constitution bars the Govt of India to have a treaty with Bangladesh without the consensus of West Bengal. Even if they do sign it, West Bengal can appeal against it in Supreme Court and a victory would enable them to nullify the treaty. On the other hand, if West Bengal agrees, the Central Govt has no power to stop them to go ahead with a treaty. This is why Jyoti Basu played a key role in getting Farakka treaty done.
According to some news sources, West Bengal Govt does not want to commit anything before upcoming elections next year as it could potentially be used against the ruling party. We can hope for a progress after 2011.
8. Bangladesh allows India to draw 1.82 cusec of water from the Feni river for drinking water. What is the impact of this?
It sounds strange but it does not affect the treaty at all. The reason is mentioned in the above article. The withdrawal of water is from river Feni which flows through the state of Tripura. So, the benefit goes to that state. Since state is in power of water resources, West Bengal sees no benefit from it.
9. What does International Law says on this dispute?
The International Convention and India-Bangladesh treaty of 1996 points to the same fact – distribute river water in terms of equity. The concept of equity is a bit complex and I discussed it at length in another post. There are 7 or more factors to be taken into account when measuring what an equitable share should mean.
One important thing to remember is that equity does not mean equal sharing. For example, the Indus water treaty allows India to use approximately 20% of the water since the area under irrigation and population dependent on it are close to that ratio. It is an example of equitable sharing of water resource. If the water of Brahmaputra is distributed at 50:50, it won’t be an equitable sharing since Bangladesh is overwhelmingly dependent on it.
10. How are the factors of equity for Bangladesh and India?
|Population in Catchment||7620913||8028752|
|Catchment Area||2071 sq km||12650s km|
|Catchment Irrigable Area||2071 sq km||2970 sq km|
|Population in Irrigable area||7620913||7488259|
|Geography||Plains||Plains and hilly|
|Area currently under irrigation||111,000 hectare||527,000 hectare|
|Target area||750,000 hectare||922,000 hectare|
The numbers are obtained from Govt websites. The parts of West Bengal (total area – area in Sikkim) is assumed to be the irrigable area in the catchment – the reality should be close to that. The population is calculated adding the population of concerned districts.
The Tista project in West Bengal actually covers areas in Dinajpur also, which may distort the population numbers. In that case district population figures add up to 9827331.
11. How logical is West Bengal argument on sharing water in proportion of area under irrigation?
There are a couple of fallacies in the argument to distribute water in proportion with area under irrigation. As the water withdrawn is solely used in irrigation, the target irrigation area can be the sole determining factor in this treaty. However, it’s wrong to look at current area under irrigation and ignore the potential. The reason that area under irrigation in Bangladesh is so low despite having a decent target area is the availability of water. Since water is not at all available after the upstream dam diversion, Bangladesh did not proceed with increasing area under irrigation. So, the argument loops back itself – very purpose of the treaty is being used as a parameter of it.
If we go back in history, India had under 10% usage of Indus basin water resources before partition. During Indus basin negotiations, India argued that their Colonial masters did not show any interest in developing any particular area with irrigation since they were part of the same country and state (Punjab). Indian argument was valid and was accepted during negotiation. Similarly, Bangladesh didn’t get a fair chance to bring the irrigable area under cover due to upstream diversion. The factors we should look at are the irrigable area under catchment and the target areas of the project and neglect the actual area under irrigation.
As the numbers indicate, the proposal from Bangladesh is what is closer to equity if my argument is considered. In fact, a research by Yoshiro Higano and Fakrul Islam proposed Bangladesh to have 40% of water in order to maintain equity.
12. Are there any other areas of focus for the treaty?
There are a few more potential areas of co-operation under the same treaty. India is building 50,000 MW hydroelectricity dams (most of these are run-of-the-river) on Tista and it’s tributaries. Bangladesh can grant a “no-objection” to that plan since that will probably not affect the dry season flow. In future, India can build a reservoir to facilitate the dry season flow and solely use the entire augmented water in West Bengal – the treaty can have provisions for that. To move the relationship in a better direction, the reservoir can be built as a joint venture and electricity and irrigation water can be shared. With the same reservoir, any flood moderation plans can also kick-in.
Sources (Will be updated):
Last few days were good for Indian football. Actually, they performed much better than popular expectation. India managed to get a place in the semi final of AFC Challenge Cup. Bob Houghton, Indian coach is happy. Indian team is happy, and of course we are happy.
However, if we go match by match, we won’t see any exceptional performance by India. But, India did enough to qualify for the Semi Final. Team did rest a few in the first match and came up with a win. The second match was drawn as a result of too many players getting rested. The third was our full team and we outplayed the opponents. The critics say the ground condition was bad enough in the last match but given Indian dominance in the match, it is unlikely that India would have lost it had the match played on a normal surface.
Bob Houghton took some good decisions in the mean time. He rested players properly. He employed the long-ball game strategy since he was not sure of skills of his squad. Last but not the least, he motivated the team to win matches. For last few years, that motivation was somehow missing from the team. I am a firm supporter of his ideas of changing Indian football infrastructure since what he proposed is not an abrupt change, but a small delta on the existing system. I agree to him when he says that Indian National footballers should play less in local leagues. I like people who solve the problem step by step.
I am not sure what’s the scoreline going to be for next two matches. I can understand that this tournament is a better oppourtunity than the Nehru Cup, as this will be the ticket provider for the next AFC Asian Cup in 2011. If India can manage to win this, they’ll be through to play a few Asian powerhouses. More importantly, the matches would be in 2011, i.e. 3 years from now. India can build a team focussing the same tournament.
One more importance of Asia Asian cup is in terms of ranking. AFC Asian cup will provide a lot of points for winning (or even a draw) than a similar win in AFC Challenge cup or the Nehru Cup (these are termed as friendlies). If India can get through to top 16 somehow, then Houghton can really do something and people will shout for pouring more money into the game. As an upward spiral Indian football can gain momentum in this way. Bob Houghton did understand that. He is indeed a wise man.
The only point where I disagree with him is the decision to exclude Alvito from Indian squad. I am really clueless about such a valuable player sitting out of the ground. Steven Dias provides crosses from the right wing and what happens if there’s another Steven? Pradeep shoots at goal from distance and what happens if there is another Pradeep? Alvito is a mix of Pradeep and Steven, who can both cross well and shoot from distance. He is indeed a valuable player. Even yesterday he stamped his authority on the game with another world class goal (video provided).
I know that I may be wrong. I know India may win AFC Challenge Cup without Alvito. India may play well without him. But, I don’t see any reason to ignore him at all. Alvito is an asset of the team and I want him to play for India. Is Bob Houghton listening to me?
Another post on the same topic.
Update : India did actually won the AFC Challenge Cup, beating Tajiks 4-1 in the final. This time the match was played on a good surface and India really outclassed their opponents. See the goals :
Reaction to – Connectiva to double India R&D investments
I can still remember my first day in the company. I went into a Saltlake apartment, which was the makeshift office of Connectiva Systems. We basically had a two storeyed building. We used to have the lunch at the kitchen and sit with the computers in the bedrooms. One can easily think of a three or four bed apartment that was transformed to a company. We used to have some meetings on the open balcony of the second floor.
Then we moved to a more professional workplace, that too on top of a bar cum restaurant. But it had a professional look and was located near the IT hub of Kolkata. We had a room to play TT, which we used to play at least once a day. We had another sister company along with us, sitting in the same floor.
Nobody was sure on which area we work on. Nobody really knew which was our first official project and none were really sure of how we got it. But the matter of fact was, the hard work for first couple of years were starting to pay off. We stopped thinking about whether VCs were going to fund us. And a new zeal was introduced with a few companies partnering our company. Then I left. I can remember I was the 12th senior most in the company and we had hardly 25 employees.
I am sure that leaving Connectiva did work out well for me. I have come out of what we call a protected environment, and jumped into a world where not only I have to impress people, but also to politicize almost each issue to extract maximum benefit out of it. The lesson was important. Still I am learning to get tough and matured.
But, the company didn’t stop there. The revenue assurance was a virgin area where we had settled just before I left the company. They flourished out of that. They managed projects in Middle East and in India. They got award for being best in the vertical. They continued the amazing growth story.
The positives those brought Connectiva to such a height were a few aspects every strategist should think about. We started with platform oriented architecture, which was at the same time better suited for the Telecom Companies. Telecom is a big industry and it has multiple verticals of technology. It has little or no standardization across the verticals. If Nortel switch solves a problem in a particular way, the other vendor will do it in another. So, for years the managers of Telecom sector were sandwiched by multiple verticals of technology. Connectiva came up with a platform to relieve them of that pressure.
Add : Amitavada on West Bengal IT Industry (Rediff)