Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

The other side of festivities


I went to the Saturday Club for lunch. I normally avoid these clubs as they have a problem with my Indian attire – kurta pyjamas. Most of the old prominent clubs of Kolkata still continue to stick to some of the rules of British exclusiveness that were rooted in racial segregation. However, thanks to the family room rules of Saturday Club, I had a nice lunch.
My chauffeur had parked the car in Wood Street and like any other day gave a ten-rupee note to the parking personnel to pay for the parking fees which is seven rupees for an hour. But the parking personnel did not give the three-rupee change announcing that since the Pujas were round the corner the fee would be ten rupees. He did hand over a receipt of seven rupees to my chauffeur.
I remained a silent spectator to the whole incident. After some argument the parking personnel gave back the three rupees. I am not aware of any move by the Kolkata Corporation increasing the parking fee during the Pujas. In India, so many things ranging from the trivial to the serious happen beyond the ambit of the law and all this is more evident during the Pujas and other festivals.
Whether it is giving donations to the Puja committees or advertisements to various souvenirs, magazines and dailies for Puja supplements or dealing with parking fee personnel or the autorickshawallahs, it almost seems as if it has the sanction of the law. We seem to have little choice in the matter. Citizens compelled to put up with the demands and excesses of others in the name of celebrations is not a sign of a healthy democratic society.
I remember an incident that took place years back. There was a death in one of the families and just two weeks had passed when the local para committee forced the family to pay subscriptions in the name of celebrations. Can anyone believe a family in mourning celebrating the Pujas.
The situation has only worsened since then. I saw a newspaper report today that a local Puja committee of a para in Phulbagan demanded hefty puja subscriptions from senior citizens’ cooperative and even heckling and injuring one of the elderly who had to be given medical attention. Only when the senior ladies stepped out in protest did the committee members back out. Interestingly, the local police said that there was no case as the matter was resolved mutually.
Why festivities across the country have actually become painful expenditure events than real celebrations?
Kolkata is still better off in terms of thrift during the Pujas as compared to Delhi and Mumbai during Diwali. Huge sums are wasted in sending out sweets in a country that is home to 50 per cent of the worlds’ hungry as stated in the latest UNDP report. The report also said that India would not be able to meet a majority of the targets related to poverty, hunger, health, gender equality and environmental sustainability by 2015.
As I always say we never react to all this. However, there is a flicker of hope, as the elderly ladies of Phulbagan have shown.
ess bee

1 comment:

  1. In INDIA still their's reservation towards Indian Attire and that too for males because fairer gender are allowed to move in Saree. Sti People like you have changed a perception a lot & Kurta-Pajama is in -- Thanks Sundeep Ji.

    7 ka 10 ; nearly 40% hike imagine the booty gets added to the pockets parking fee collectors.
    Further I think "Auto - Rickshawala's " in Kolkata are beyond any rules&regulation - No fixed fare, no meters, no restrictions on no. of passengers, no parking norms, no police case, God knows under which Motor Vehicles Act they ply.

    As per recent Real Estate market Kanurgachi Phoolbagan have seen maximum rise in property market, More n More commercial outlets and every leading Brand outlet is here. So have the fund flow to local puja committee. Now the heat is faced by old residents they too are forced to cough the hard earned money and how many have courage like elderly ladies of Phulbagan, so majority takes it as A.M.C -- annual maintenance cost for residing in these areas.

    Chalte Chlate: Fizaa Badlegi ...Yehi hai Umeed

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