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Calcutta 1981

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Jean Racine

Session I. B. The Foundations of the Present: Understanding Calcutta

Discussions

Hiten Bhaya

Texte intégral

We are contracting ourselves, contracting our horizon

Asok Mitra

  • a Buddhadev Bose was from East Bengal. He migrated from Dhaka to Calcutta. On the poet and his relati (...)
  • b The illustrious namesake is Ashok Mitra, economist of repute. He was Chief Economic Adviser to the (...)

1I feel that although Fr. Roberge, being a non-Bengali, may have chosen to be discreet, yet he brought out a very important point on the question of imagination. If a nation loses its imagination it loses everything and that is the central point. I belong to Calcutta. I opened my eyes first on Calcutta and saw a bit of her sky. So I cannot look at Calcutta as though at a mistress. That may have Buddhadev Bose’s attitudea or my illustrious namesake Dr. Ashok Mitra's problem, who migrated front Dhakab. Calcutta is my mother.

2I am afraid in most discussions these days on Calcutta, there is a distressing note of nostalgia, of self-pity, of narcissism, and pardon my using the word —I do not mean to give offence— of even masturbation. Mind you I have nothing against masturbation or lesbianism or homosexuality. Some of the gifted persons I know have these predilections. But that is very different from self-pity or narcissism. Those who display nostalgia or self-pity over Calcutta forget one supreme fact. Calcutta has been distinguished by a tremendous, fierce clinging to life for earning a living. To this aspect most of our intellectuals have been supremely indifferent.

  • c On Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose see the footnote on page 75. He was in the twenties, at
  • d Sir Stuart Hogg was chairman of the Municipal Body of Justices for ten years (1866-1876), the munic (...)
  • e Bidhan Chandra Roy (1882-1962): Mayor of Calcutta in 1931-1932, Congress Chief Minister of West Ben (...)

3They have also been disinterested in the growth and functional improvement of Calcutta, in its industrial might and potentialities. For instance, Professor Sunil Munshi blamed the British for the neglect of Calcutta. Now, why should the Bengal Chamber of Commerce in the 1900's have shed their tears for Calcutta if the Indiar community never fought for it? As a matter of fact, if you come to think of it, and if you are honest, the entire lay-out of Calcutta, anything that was good in Calcutta was really done by British persons in charge. Not even Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, when he was Mayorc, did things of the kind that Stuart Hogg didd. The only person who worked for Calcutta was Bidhan Chandra Roye. So what is the point of blaming the British?

  • f Profulla Chandra Sen: Congress Chief Minister from 1962 to 1967.
    Siddhartha Shankar Ray: Congress Ch
    (...)

4Then again, Alok Banerjee, in his speech, mentioned the two faces of Calcutta. But I was expecting that he would make a presentation of what happened during Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy's time, Profulla Chandra Sen’s time, Siddhartha Ray's time, and now in Jyoti Basu's timef

5The ups and downs of Calcutta's cultural life seem to have very closely coincided with the business cycles of Calcutta ever since the beginning of the 19th Century. Whenever Calcutta has been vibrant, cultural life has been vibrant. Whenever Calcutta’s economic life has sagged, Calcutta's cultural life has sagged. What have you now? Calcutta's industrial and commercial strength is on the wane. What do we have now by way of creative effort is very little, except slick and trite stories which are forgotten the day they are read. Barring Mahasweta Bhattacharya's works —but then she goes outside of Calcutta to collect her material or set her scene— do you have anything very worthwhile in literature today?

6Then we are getting used to everything. Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy spent a tremendous amount of time and energy bringing gas from Durgapur. That has conked out. Calcutta Gas Corporation has conked out. And now in a city of Calcutta's size you are making do with bottled gas. Three months ago when I was in Calcutta everybody was concerned about electricity. But now we are quite reconciled to the lack of it. We are getting used to the lack of every little amenity. We are contracting ourselves, our souls and our imaginations, contracting our horizon. The answer to electricity failure is a little diesel or battery generator for as little as two or three hours in the evening. There is no indignation. I am reminded of W.B. Yeats' mention of Swift's "savage indignation." Unless the intellectuals of Calcutta generate a certain savage indignation of what is happening, there is no way out and no salvation.

  • g Prasanta Sur: Minister for Urban Affairs since 1977 in the first and second Jyoti Basu's Left Front (...)

7We welcomed the World Bank in 1970-71 to come and invest. I was then in the Planning Commission. My main aim was that the World Bank should invest on the sinews of power, on energy, on new industrial investment, on infrastructure and so on. For the last eight years, Calcutta has taken loans from the World Bank. Mind you, it is a bank! But instead of investing Calcutta has been spending money on cosmetics —beautifying the city here, facelifting a place there, digging up the roads here, filling up the roads there. Prasanta Surg is a human dynamo, but he spends all his time not on the imaginative side —he does not have time— he spends all his time fire-fighting. And all the time we take pride in our past, we glorify our anaemic dance and song and so on, and not concentrate on what will make Calcutta strong and healthy. I cannot understand this, Mr. Chairman.

Raj-dhani; Banya-dhani; Babu-dhani

Sivaprasad Samaddar

8I will go back half a Century to the brilliant writer Professor Mitra refcrred to: Buddhadev Bose, who said that he loved Calcutta not as one loves one’s mother, but as one loves one's mistress. Bose was like many of the people of Calcutta who, since Independence and the Partition of the country came here from elsewhere, and were not born here in the mother’s womb. Bose made also two or three other interesting observations in that writing.

  • h The three great names of modem Bengali literature: Bankim Chandra Chatterji (1838-1894), the father (...)
  • i Raj-dhani·. the city of politics, the capital city, the abode of administration. Banya-dhani. the c (...)
  • j Mahasweta Bhattacharya (born in 1920): A woman novelist of social-historical genre whose incisive d (...)

9One he said is that we have still someone to be the poet and writer of Calcutta. When Victor Hugo roamed the streets of Paris, he carried a map with him, but our writers, litterateurs and poets have turned their face away from Calcutta. Bose had particularly referred to the trioh, i.e. Rabindranath Tagore, Sarat Chandra Chatterji and of course, Bankim Chandra Chatterji of an age gone by and he said that for all their brilliance, they had never been cooped up in Calcutta and they never looked to Calcutta with love in their eyes. Then, Bose was quite optimistic that in the days to come, Calcutta will grow to brilliance. The Capital was shifted from here, and it is no more Raj-dhani but Banya-dhanii, the place of trade and commerce. But we’ll have our poets. Echoing again Professor Mitra, I should say that we have our Mahasweta Bhattacharya, Sunil Gangopadhyay and Sameresh Bosej, and 80 or 90 per cent of our stories are today Cal-centric. But to what effect?

  • k This litterateur is the poet Ananda Shankar Roy, who resigned from the prestigious Indian Civil Ser (...)

10Now talking of Banya, a couple of years ago, an ICS turned full-time litterateur and thinker, like our friend Professor Mitra, wrote a poem on Calcutta and there he referred to it simultaneously as Gangakuli Sabhyatar Mohenjodaro and Babu-dhani. Mohenjodaro is at the same time the pinnacle of a primevai civilization and its graveyard. Did the author in referring to Calcutta as the Mohenjodaro of the Ganga Valley civilization talk of the nemesis? And then the trajectory from Raj-dhani to Banya-dhani to Babu-dhanik. Does the solution lie that way?

  • l See J. Racine's paper, plate 1.
  • m S. Samaddar refers here to the national anthem, the first stanza of Tagore's poem Janagana-mana whi (...)
  • n Bhumiputra: the sons of the soil. The various "sons of the soil" movement seek to restrict the shar (...)
  • o Shram-dhani: the city of labour, the abode of labourers (J.R., S.S.).

11We have our French friend here, one from the land of Victor Hugo with Paris in his pockets. Our friend has presented and talked about two advertisements featuring labour trouble and power-shortagel. The sum and substance of it can be referred to Rabindranath Tagore's Gujarata, Maratha, Dravida, Utkala, Bangam. From Gujarat, there is one advertisement issued by the Gujarat State Finance Corporation and the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation. The other is from Orissa asking people to come there for plenty of water and plenty of power. For the next two days we shall naturally be grappling with the problems and coping with the crisis. My question is whether with all our literature, with all our thinking and with all our planning, we are able to come to the root of the problem. In other words, this dream from Raj-dhani to banya-dhani has not materialized. For commerce a port has a large role. We have our port of Calcutta, a port which was laid with the greatest of thought but is now crippled and limping along. Will a new concept of babu-dhani solve our problem? In Maharashtra, which includes the thriving city of Bombay, 60 per cent of the office-goers, clerks and typists are natives of the soil. Still Bombay has not yet thought of imposing the sort of restriction on non-Bhumiputras as we have got in Malaysian. In Calcutta, we have an open-door policy and consider it alien to our culture to impose any hurdle on people coming from other States for livelihood. Will this babu-dhani therefore solve our problems? If not, then will another ethos and another culture be worked out from here, like shram-dhani, the power-centre based on labour?o

The problem of Calcutta does not lie within Calcutta

Biplab Dasgupta

12I have a word or two of caution to offer at the very outset. One is that there is a tendency here to over-emphasize the peculiarities of Calcutta as if Calcutta was something unique! But if one goes through the genesis of the other cities in the Third World, looks at their problem of transport, their conflicts between social groups, or other things such as settlement patterns, one would find that there is a broad similarity between the experiences of cities in Africa, in Latin America and in Asia. So one should not confine oneself, even when discussing Calcutta, to Calcutta alone, because in that way one does not really get a proper perspective of the problem.

13A second point I would mention is this, which has been emphasized by Alok Banerjee, that it is not simply a case of Calcutta not being built around a factory, as Professor Sunil Munshi has said. Actually none of the Third World cities have been built around factories. All of them had a certain similarity: they were built by the colonial masters to serve a certain purpose, which was to procure goods and materials from the hinterland, and to ship them to the metropolitan centre. That was the objective and the port played a certain role in that development. Which is why, not only Calcutta, but also cities such as Algiers or Accra played the same role, being the centre where the ruling class lived, where the privileges were concentrated, from where the whole country was directed and administered, and also into which the resources and material of the rest of the country were brought and then shipped to the other parts of the world, to the metropolitan centres. This particular feature of the development of Calcutta and also of the other cities should be taken into account, because without this we might not get a proper perspective of the problems of social and economic development.

14Another point which has just come up is about the settlement pattern: the Englishmen's quarters, the Indians’ quarters and the mixed quarters. This is there in every Third World city. I will give an example of Nairobi. In Nairobi you have the European quarter very clearly defined, the African quarter very clearly defined and an Indian quarter also very clearly defined. And you find that even within the Indian quarter, Ismailis, Punjabis, Goanese, Gujaratis and other communities live segregated lives, having their own schools, social clubs, religious centres and so on and so forth. So these are the two features of the settlement pattern of the city: each social class and each linguistic community have their own pockets. This stratification of the society by class and community is an important feature of the life of every city of the Third World and also in other parts of the world. In London, too, you see this particular feature. And this is what makes the city a concern of nobody —the poor, the rich or anyone. Professor Sunil Munshi has mentioned that the social classes do not have a link between themselves. A slumdweller has no link with the man who lives in the luxury flats. And each of them has his own way of transport, social clubs, school System, job specialization, and segregated residential areas. So these things differentiate the people of Calcutta as well as the people of most of the cities into various groups and categories. There is not much interaction amongst them.

15The fourth point which I would like to mention is that the roots of the problem of Calcutta do not lie within Calcutta. Why do people come to Calcutta? Because there is a disparity between Calcutta and the areas whose inhabitants are drawn to Calcutta. Some people say that the poor who come to Calcutta wring its wealth and thus Calcutta is exploited by the people from outside. I think it is a totally wrong theory which should be countered. The people who come from outside Calcutta play a productive role in the development of Calcutta. Without the Biharis, the Gujaratis and the Oriyas, Calcutta would not be what it is today. And the little bit of money they send back home is nothing compared to the contribution they make to the development of the city. And no city in the world has developed without the contribution of the immigrants. Even New York, which is the biggest metropolis in the world —in terms of money power and all that— has been built by the immigrants. And this is why New York is called a "melting pot". Each immigrant group comes and gets assimilated as new groups come in. If this narrow and confined view is taken about the role of the immigrant then it is very dangerous for the development of Calcutta itself. So one has to have a certain balance of understanding. The rural-urban disparity which brings people to Calcutta has also to be considered and the role which the immigrant communities play in the development of the city has also to be taken into account. These are some of the points I wanted to make.

How does one create popular participation?

Barun De

16I am in support of what Biplab Dasgupta said, but would like to add just one or two notes about action implications.

Colonial cities: their activities and their morphologyp

  • p The subtitles have been added by the Editor.

17One is with regard to a proposition that was stated by my colleague Professor Munshi, about the morphology of cities which are healthy, generally starting with an industrial core and then, moving out into suburbs when necessary, but still starting with an industrial core. Now, in line with what Professor Dasgupta has just said, there is a category called colonial cities. Calcutta is the epitome of such a city and is similar to many other such cities. In such cities the whole economy was nonindustrial, specializing in processing and commerce only. So I think it is eminently natural and proper for a colonial city, proper in its internal consistency and in no other sense, but even so, natural for such a city to have bazaars sprouting anywhere and everywhere. I mean, I would not take a position adopted earlier and say that this was the best thing that could happen. This was at least the best thing that did happen. But I would say, what more did present day scholars expect of a city like Calcutta?

18I was trying to think of cities which have been healthy, which have maintained themselves, which have retained a vitality which is not colonial, and which have not had an industrial core. Immediately, two cities sprung to my mind, which did not have an industrial core at any rate: Edinburgh and New York.

19Edinburgh is not only the political capital of Scotland, it is also its cultural Capital. It was a city built around a rock with a castle on it. And sects of squabbling Presbyterian divines, on that narrow Street which comes down from the rock, by their own process of interaction, bred what was known as the great intellectual renaissance of the eighteenth Century in Scotland. The industry grew up about 60 miles away, in Glasgow, in Pailey, in Ayr, and such places. That was after imperial exploitation fructified, when there was an integral relationship between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

20New York, I may be wrong here, but from my small viewing of the city, did not have an industrial core, it had an industrial periphery. It was a Dutch mercantile colonial city which then became a British neo-colonial mercantile city, that is to say in the period from the Declaration of Independence till about the I860s. Round its periphery developed working industrial units on the New Jersey shore and north of Long Island. The point here, I think, is that cities which are able to maintain a productive relationship with the predominant basis of industrial production are cities which are healthy. Calcutta did not develop such productive relationships. That is why Calcutta has tended to become the cesspool of much of economic crisis of West Bengal or the whole of Bengal.

21I would entirely agree with Professor Munshi's proposition in its second half, that there was no genuine production principle in Calcutta and I do not think that the British had production principles, only commercial ones in India. They certainly built much ¿hat was good in Park Street and two miles this way and that of Park Street. But I do not think that Calcutta did have a production principle. On the other hand I do not think that Calcutta needed an industry within itself to make it productive. What it needed was a relationship with industrial cities outside.

  • q Barun De's article was published in two issues of the Economic Weekly (now, Economic and Political (...)

22This brings me to my second point. Whatever Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy may have planned, and I think that his intentions, as I once said in an Economic Weekly article in 1963, were great and noble, but they did not workq. I am not saying that they did not work because of him nor because of the cadre of officers and workers whom he was able to gather. But I am merely saying that probably he was not charismatic enough, probably he did not live long enough. Anyway he did not have the right sort of party to carry out his ideas. But in any case, whether it was Durgapur, Kalyani or Haldia, Calcutta did not establish, not even after Indian Independence, the sort of productive relationship that Edinburgh established with Glasgow. And that is the context within which the discussion is going on.

Must we maintain the British heritage?

  • r The Asiatic Society, founded in 1784 in Calcutta, was the oldest learned society which conducted re (...)

23Professor Asok Mitra has said something that immediately struck a chord in my mind. He said that the British built all that was good in Calcutta. I used to live as a boy in that part of Calcutta where the British built all that was good. I lived a few houses down this Street, opposite St. Xavier's College. On the east of Park Street was the cemetery where you have those mouldering graves. At this side on the west, where Park Street ends, was the Asiatic Societyr, both of which the British built. Nowadays what one finds, is that the graves are being rebuilt by public subscription. On the other hand, one finds that the Asiatic Society is not.

  • s Barun De refers to the Emergency under which the country was ruled by the Indira Gandhi government (...)

24I have a feeling that the pendulum is coming back —not only do we retain the relics of the British heritage, we are even prepared to rebuild them. Why should the Park Street cemetery be maintained when we neglect revitalization of public life in Calcutta? On the other hand, practically nothing is said when you see those atrocious posters outside the Asiatic Society, about its mismanagement. Under the Emergency, the posters were wiped out and then you got a Congress (I) poster being put up in its places. That I think is the point about creativity which needs to be made. If there is anything good in Calcutta's past which needs revitalization, then only let us revitalize it. If there was nothing much in the past then let us forget it. But talks are going on about the good that the British did, including the bones that they left behind. It doesn't really enthuse anybody very much in Calcutta. This brings me to my last point, and I will crave your indulgence to tell a little anectode.

How to start popular action in the city: a personal anecdote

25Alok Banerjee, in his concluding sentences, talked about popular action. Each one of us here feel that we have to go in for further popular action. The question is, how do we do it? Do we do it in an individual way? I tried doing that. I live on a Street which has perhaps been labelled by the Calcutta Corporation, as a Street of the rich —the Ballygunge Circular Road. Whenever one makes a complaint about urban services in Ballygunge Circular Road, one is told that this is an upper income area. Think of the bustees, think of slums. One immediately recoils because such a rebuke is a very correct rebuke— one has nothing further to say. On the southern bend of that road there was at one time on pump which supplied water. Later, Calcutta Corporation permitted the building of a set of very high-rise blocks of apartments, probably necessary for middle-class housing. It did not solve the bustee problem, but it certainly solved the problem of my own class. When it was built, there was need for a lot more water for all of us. So a second pumping station was put in, not by Calcutta Corporation but by CMDA. The first pump started going out of action. The inhabitants who did not get enough water from the second one started complaining. They were told by the pumping station operators: you come from rich houses, why don't you go and complain to the Corporation —they will look into it. So I went to the Corporation and was told that the Corporation had no funds. We kept quiet. I was not one of them who were mobilizing people. I was only thinking about our own petty water supply problems. And then the pump went completely out of action. There was supply of water, except from the booster put in by the CMDA, a booster not for us, but for later urban growth. Recently, that second pump went out of action. There was no water not only on Ballygunge Circular Road, but also on the Beltolla bustee, which is on the other side of Ballygunge Circular Road.

  • t Minister for Public Works and Housing in the S.S. Ray Congress Government (1972-77). The Chief Mini (...)

26At that juncture I again wrote a letter to the Calcutta Corporation. And a reply came: the water supply of Ballygunge Circular Road was quite satisfactory. The old pumping station had gone out of use and a new pumping station had been built in its place. There was no reason to worry about the water supply. My neighbours insisted that I should start going round and built a popular action committee. One of the persons who pointed this out to me was the new pumping station operator, who had been appointed there by Mr. Prasanta Sur, because the old pumping operator, who had been appointed by Mr. Bhola Sent had been absenting himself every weekend —Saturdays and Sundays when there used to be no water. The new pumping officer told me to start a citizens' committee which could persuade Mr. Prasanta Sur into doing something about it.

  • u Who was for seven years (1970-76) the Secretary of the CMDA. He then joined the World Bank headquar (...)
  • v The Communist Party (Marxist) leading the Left Front which won the state elections in 1977, and won (...)

27I put it to you. There must be several people in this audience who will come and tell me, why the hell you didn't go and form a citizen's Committee? And I will then admit that I am not of the stuff that citizen committee organizers are made. But then the question arises, how do the citizen’s committee get formed? Because basically, I take it, this is also Dr. Biplab Dasgupta’s point that there has to be more popular participation at the mass level. Mr. Sivaramakrishnanu of the CMDA used to say five years ago, before he left for other arenas, that one needed a mandate for the city —a popular mandate. How does one create that popular mandate? You do not create it out of these seminars: I am prepared to grant that, since I have been told so in another seminar by a CMDA participant in this audience. But then, what is the stuff out of which you create it? Do you create it merely by a call for action, a call for forgetting the past and thinking of the future; or are there more practical ways of its creation? My point is, can this mandate merely be created by planning? Should it not have added to it an element of a movement and then, the question arises, where is the party which can create such a movement to give elbow to the mandate? Does Dr. Biplab Dasgupta think his party has done enough to justify the urban mandate it received in 1977?v I am just raising the question, not to the people who have presented the papers, but to the general seminar. I am sure the question will be answered —even if it is not, I am sure it will go on bothering us.

The poor Calcutta will definitely emerge

Sudhendu Mukherjee

  • w In 1905 anti-British activists struck in Bengal in retaliation against the Viceroy's decision to di (...)

28Since it is a session on overview, I will strictly confine myself to the topic, otherwise we can discuss about the need for a revolution as Professor Mitra seems to be anxious —about why there is not "savage fury". Calcutta did show "savage fury" in different decades of her history— take it from 1905 or when it conspired with Germany to defeat the Britishw. If "savage fury" means anything, in each decade of Calcutta's history, Calcutta's young people have shown it. Fury does not often lead to creation —so we must be patient when analysing the past, present and future actions. Delhi has a nice infrastructure, but it produces politicians who can perhaps be bought. I would hence fully agree with Professor Munshi's analysis though some points are missing.

  • x Sultans of Bengal, very often self-proclaimed, ruled from the thirteenth Century to 1526, when Nasr (...)

29Even the European settlements like Chinsurah, Hooghly or Serampore were pre-British. There were Moghul scttlcments also such as Bhatpara, Harinabhi and Rajpur. Then there were settlements even of the pre-Sultan era: Naihati, Kanchraparax. So these settlements have to be remembered when we discuss the configuration of the Metropolitan structure. But, I think, Professor Munshi has missed the point that this entire suburban area, though it might have had some independent development, became part of the metropolitan economic pool, albeit negatively. Even today the suburban areas are neglected very much by the pressures of the metropolitan economic development. These relationships between suburban and metropolitan growth have to be viewed in a more systematic way so that it can get a right perspective. Otherwise it might appear that the independent character of the suburban growth is continuing in its old form. That is not true.

30The second point is about the location of residential areas around industry. I do not know why it was so much debated. As everyone knows, the British were very generous about allowing industrial growth in India, so naturally we find a bazaar economy here around, and we need not have gone into that sort of discussion here!!

  • y The Lottery Committee came into being in 1814, and worked actively for decades in Central Calcutta, (...)

31The third point I would like to mention is about popular image. I think that Alok Banerjee has mentioned it nicely. I fully agree: there were always two or may be three Calcuttas. The second Calcutta is emerging and this Calcutta does not bother about amenities like sewerage and water supply. If the Lottery Committeey planned for nominal civic services, CMDA is planning for the Metro or the Hooghly Bridge, which will not cater to the needs of about 80% of the people. So the Lottery Committee tradition is being faithfully and religiously followed by the CMDA —there is no doubt about it. The question is that the second Calcutta, the poor Calcutta, will definitely emerge. This takes time, and a proper momentum. But the days are coming.

We are not talking about how the situation can change

Jai Sen

32Dr. Sudhendu Mukherjee has in many senses pre-empted what I was going to say. I think we need to get a point past seminaring, we need to get into a point of action.

33What has surprised me is that for a seminar being held in 1979, the situation remains somewhat odd. Not only the CMDA is faithfully following the tradition of the Lottery Committee, but the reflections in the seminar seem to ignore the existence of most of the people of Calcutta. We surely have to move beyond a point of analysis, and I think that the points Biplab Dasgupta and Father Roberge have raised are points on which we can act.

34What we can do, what is possible if planners are willing to change, is to look at what the interest of the different classes of citizens of Calcutta are. There are 80% of Calcutta citizens who have interests completely different from the minority. Father Roberge suggested that imagination is required. Yes, by firing and using our imaginations, if we are willing to change our mode of planning and our mode of interface with the 80% of Calcuttans, then it may be possible to become relevant not just to the 20%, but to the 80%. We are talking about rural continuance, we are talking about the predominance of urban industrial complexes, but we are not talking about how the situation can change.

35It may be true that the second Calcutta —almost non-existent as Alok Banerjee has said —is emerging. In my work and experience, I feel that is true. But the point is that it makes all of us irrelevant. Is that something we are prepared to stay with? Be irrelevant in seminars and talk only about ourselves and our past?

A perspective for action

Hiten Bhaya

  • z Organized by the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Calcutta in April 1976. The Proceedings of this semina (...)

36Now it is left for me to add to the chaos created by the various remarks on today's papers, particularly the one by Mr. Sen when he pointed that we have had enough of seminars. As a matter of fact we had a seven-day seminar on "Calcutta 2000" some time agoz and most of the speakers this morning who expressed their dissatisfaction with seminars were also present in that seminar, and I am quite sure that if there is another seminar, they will be there also. So possibly our audience and the participants of this seminar is rather confined amongst people who have had enough of such discussions. Nevertheless I shall quickly try to link the four papers with one another, with a view to link it finally with the rest of the seminar which, I gather, will be held in spite of the protest made.

Here Dr. Bhaya summarizes and synthesizes what contributors and speakers from the floor have expressed, and presents his own comments:

On G. Roberge's paper

37One question which arises in my mind is that many cities of the past which were mentioned today (Ayodhya, Mathura, Babylon) have disappeared. Some others like Roma and Varanasi, have stayed on. Maybe they have a cybernetic System for survival which we have not discussed as yet.

On S.K. Munsi's paper

38Professor Munsi made a point which links up with Fr. Roberge's paper as well as Mr. Banerjee's paper. Munsi talked about apathy. The historical analysis of the apathy during the Imperial past may not be agreed to, but the fact of the apathy has not been questioned. If we look at Bombay and Delhi, probably S.K. Munsi's analysis is strengthened. Bombay, unlike Calcutta, is a city in which the Indian businessmen took interest. And Delhi, as you know, is an administrator's city par excellence, grown in the post-Independence era. So there is possibly something valid in the analysis of the imperial past. More important for us is the question of apathy which continued today. It links up with the point made by Fr. Roberge regarding cultivation of imagination which deals with something far more positive than mere apathy.

On J. Racines paper

39Of course Mr. Racine, being the bearer of a great name, could not avoid a somewhat tragic mood: he did talk in concrete and absolute terms about the decline of Calcutta. Dr. Asok Mitra took issue with him though he did really confirm the fact that Calcutta was declining as an objective reality. The question is: is it a decline or a fall? This question was not really answered, but Mr. Samaddar also emphasized the fact of decline.

On A. Banerjee's paper on a second Calcutta, and on the comments it brought about

40In this connection, a few things were mentioned in passing. For example, J. Racine talked about the tremendous adaptation of Calcuttans to Calcutta. This was seen by A. Banerjee as a paradox: why this adaptation without any protest, when the protestant culture is very prominent in Calcutta? A. Mitra gave more push to it, hoping to see that this protestant voice became a more indignant voice. This was also linked with Fr. Roberge's paper, which referred in fact to this second Calcutta and its model, a Calcutta which did not have any image of its own.

41Asok Mitra mentioned that it is possibly this second Calcutta which has the vitality which characterizes the city. If that is so then we have to discover the springs of this vitality. Jai Sen will say here that we cannot, if we are not related to that Calcutta, if we are not relevant to it. In this connection he raised the question of popular participation, which was also mentioned by Biplab Dasgupta and Barun De. This participation supposes important institutional changes to be introduced for decentralizing the civic administration. It will probably give an institutional focus to this second Calcutta. This opens large field for discussions.

42In conclusion, I think, we have been able to look at and find a perspective of the tangible and intangible forces at work. If we have exposed the intangible ones and related them to the tangible ones, we have set a firmer ground for subsequent sessions which, I hope, will advance towards action points.

Notes de fin

a Buddhadev Bose was from East Bengal. He migrated from Dhaka to Calcutta. On the poet and his relationship with Calcutta, see G. Roberge's paper and his note 12, Chapter 1 (J.R).

b The illustrious namesake is Ashok Mitra, economist of repute. He was Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India, and Finance Minister, Government of West Bengal from 1977 to 1986 (J.R.).

c On Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose see the footnote on page 75. He was in the twenties, at

the beginning of his political career in Calcutta, Chief Executive Officer of Calcutta

Corporation (J.R.).

d Sir Stuart Hogg was chairman of the Municipal Body of Justices for ten years (1866-1876), the municipal government at that time. His name was given to the large market opened in 1874 in Central Calcutta, one of the best in the East, known popularly as the "New Market" (J.R.).

e Bidhan Chandra Roy (1882-1962): Mayor of Calcutta in 1931-1932, Congress Chief Minister of West Bengal from 1948-1962. Under his active ministership, a number of projects were planned or launched in Calcutta and in Bengal (The industrial city of Durgapur, up and coming new towns of Salt Lake and Kalyani, etc.). He created, with the help of the Ford Foundation, the Calcutta Metropolitan Planning Organization in 1961 (J.R.).

f Profulla Chandra Sen: Congress Chief Minister from 1962 to 1967.
Siddhartha Shankar Ray: Congress Chief Minister from 1972 to 1977.
Jyoti Basu: Deputy Chief Minister in the first (1967) and the second (1969-1971) United Front Governments, he is the present Chief Minister of West Bengal since the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front won the elections in the State in 1977 and 1982 (J.R.)

g Prasanta Sur: Minister for Urban Affairs since 1977 in the first and second Jyoti Basu's Left Front government (J.R.).

h The three great names of modem Bengali literature: Bankim Chandra Chatterji (1838-1894), the father of the Bengali novel and author of Vande Mataram —the song and slogan which inspired the freedom struggle of India; Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), the great poet philosopher who won the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1913; Sarat Chandra Chatterji (1861-1938) whose stories are evergreen because of their social message and sympathy for the fallen (J.R., S.S.).

i Raj-dhani·. the city of politics, the capital city, the abode of administration. Banya-dhani. the city of traders. (J.R., S.S.).

j Mahasweta Bhattacharya (born in 1920): A woman novelist of social-historical genre whose incisive delineation of oppression and mass rebellion has won her high literary recognition.
Sunil Gangopadhyay (born in 1934): One of the major Bengali poets of today. Also a journalist, novelist and short story writer.
Sameresh Bose (born in 1924): An important leftist novelist, presently editor of the literary monthly
Mahanagar (J.R.).

k This litterateur is the poet Ananda Shankar Roy, who resigned from the prestigious Indian Civil Services (ICS) in 1947. Babu-dhani: the city of clerks and bureaucrats, the abode of the middle class (J.R.).

l See J. Racine's paper, plate 1.

m S. Samaddar refers here to the national anthem, the first stanza of Tagore's poem Janagana-mana which mentions the names of some of the regions composing the Indian nation (Gujarat, Maharashtra, south India, Orissa, Bengal) (J.R.).

n Bhumiputra: the sons of the soil. The various "sons of the soil" movement seek to restrict the share of the natives of other States on the employment market (J.R.).

o Shram-dhani: the city of labour, the abode of labourers (J.R., S.S.).

p The subtitles have been added by the Editor.

q Barun De's article was published in two issues of the Economic Weekly (now, Economic and Political Weekly) in November and December 1963 under the title "The Death of a Maharani: an Annal of Rural Bengal" (J.R.).

r The Asiatic Society, founded in 1784 in Calcutta, was the oldest learned society which conducted research on Indian classical civilization. Located at 1 Park Street, the Society faces today many problems, but is still active (J.R.).

s Barun De refers to the Emergency under which the country was ruled by the Indira Gandhi government from 25 June 1975 to 21 May 1977. After having lost the Lok Sabha elections in May 1977, the Congress split in January 1978. The pro-Indira Gandhi group, the most important faction, became officially the Congress (I) on 2 February 1978, and was returned to power in 1979 (J.R.).

t Minister for Public Works and Housing in the S.S. Ray Congress Government (1972-77). The Chief Minister himself was in charge of Urban Development (J.R.).

u Who was for seven years (1970-76) the Secretary of the CMDA. He then joined the World Bank headquarters (J.R.).

v The Communist Party (Marxist) leading the Left Front which won the state elections in 1977, and won again, for a second legislature, in 1982 (J.R.).

w In 1905 anti-British activists struck in Bengal in retaliation against the Viceroy's decision to divide Bengal in two parts, a Hindu one and a Muslim one. In 1911 Lord Hardinge had to annul Lord Curzon's Partition. During the two world wars, some Bengal nationalist leaders got in touch with German authorities in a bid for armed rising against the British. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose himself met Hitler in 1941 before founding, with Japanese support, the "Indian National Army" in Singapore (J.R.).

x Sultans of Bengal, very often self-proclaimed, ruled from the thirteenth Century to 1526, when Nasrat Shah acknowledged the suzerainty of Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty. It took one Century for the Mughals to establish themselves as masters of Bengal. Their power declined in the eighteenth Century. All the towns referred to by S. Mukherjee here are located in the present Metropolitan District (J.R.).

y The Lottery Committee came into being in 1814, and worked actively for decades in Central Calcutta, constructing important Streets, erecting the Town Hall, etc.... This Committee raised funds devoted to new works through lotteries. Improvement of health was a priority recognized by the Committee, whose works improved mainly the British wards of the city (J.R.).

z Organized by the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Calcutta in April 1976. The Proceedings of this seminar were published in December 1978 by the Indian Chamber of Commerce under the title Calcutta 2000. Some imperatives for action now (J.R.).

Auteur

Session Chairman

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