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ANINDA GHOSH

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 10/15/2015 |




FESTIVAL  IN LIVES  OF THE MIGRANTS n HAPLESS

Just  last  month  Songshoptok celebrated   social  media’s  ever-growing  importance, its  burgeoning impact on our life. In fact, today we are  all a part of this  Songshoptok family, because of Facebook & its social reform n
revolution that  has freed  our ideas &  literary freedoms.  Songshoptok owes its  genesis &   nurture to facebook. And, so many literary groups  in Bengali are indebted  to facebook & social media … without bloggers,  the world stops today… Like , today TOI  has  its classified advt revenue more from internet edition than from print editions…. The  genius that do not get to  enter Prafulla Sarkar Bazar house  can also  reach the world today &  days may be numbered  for  magazines that  thrive on some limited talents & thrust upon a nation their own reactionary thoughts and ideas. Also, gradually fading is the importance of published books, when e books are downloaded n read by most people. And no of writers and readers  have gone up many fold, like YouTube films are depleting the business of films in theaters , especially for  people who cannot physically access these prints n theaters. In fact, the issue I shall deal in this month is also somehow social media related.  The whole of  migrant crisis’s creation & soln in terms  of aid &  rehabilitation are being driven by public outbursts  over net & support generated thrusting govts to act.

Last month I saw an amazing interview of Ms Caroline---

For me, some social media activism/protests may have contributed to our societal problems, but not all social-mediated protests were that effective and succeeded some had given risks and threats emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, and economically. Sadly, some had even resulted to killings of people. It is not the ultimate solution to eradicate social ills and injustices. Quoting here are three of five ways how social media served as a tool of protest; from Phoebe Magdirila’s article how social media wired and contributed a  source of  awakening in the Philippines in 2013.Her article shows that ‘’Filipinos have made good – and innovative – use of social media’’. Used in Disaster response. ‘’The nation’s web users had a lot to worry over on social media. The #Rescue hash tag was put to good use on Twitter as a way to crowd source and coordinate which areas need help the most after a disaster’’; Selfish as Protests. ‘’Filipinos put their own creative slant on this trend, turning the selfie and the combined power of social media into a form of protest. There were ‘hike in train fares, disgruntled passengers started the “Price the Hike” movement on Facebook and Instagram, in which users uploaded pictures of themselves in protest of the policy. ‘Scrutiny of Government Officials. ‘’Netizens turned their attention to scrutinizing politicians. In one case, two government officials were spotted playing Candy Crush while on duty, and the photo evidence exploded across Facebook. In another incident, when the vice-president gave out relief goods with his own name stamped on the bags, social media users were quick to accuse him of self-aggrandizement.’’ Ukrainian Euromaidan protest movements labeled social media revolutions subsequently have been criticized for not having had much important activity on social media (Moldova, Arab Spring) or for having had a large social media presence but ultimately failing to make much of a long-term impact as a protest movement (Spain’s Los Indignados, Occupy Wall Street, Gezi Park in Turkey). In Ukraine, a government fell, a region was annexed, a civilian plane was shot down, and what some are calling a civil war continues to this day in the eastern part of the country. Clearly, the movement was consequential and, as we will show, social media usage was widespread and significant.’’

You  may be surprised by now, why I am writing all  these in  my prologue to this month’s  article. Because this Oktoberfest, in prelude to the upcoming fall, Western autumn is facing the worst crisis of humanity, --- the influx of millions into Europe.  And in an age , when netizens fest on  nudist to naturalist movements,& fest on Nazist and  fascist racial hooliganism , spread through  social  network, like rioters, druggists n terrorists , gunners  , --- aid starved  71 Syrians’  corpses were discovered.  76 bodies were discovered in Libya on a boat sink & both Austria n Switzerland societies crammed after a ship docked in Sicily saw 52 deaths. In a truck abandoned in Hungary border 71 Syrian corpses were found refrigerated. Around 3.4 lac  starving migrant Syrians crossed thru  Zatari desert refugee camp.

This Autumn, post Eid , Muslims are relenting fear  of  politically charged up majority  attacking and killing minority on pretext of eating beef. And the country of Vedic saints sacrificing cows to pyre and  feasting on beef  was now  feasting on blood  of  minority.  In a country boasting of 97 cr Hindus and 17 cr Muslims, an ever growing Muslim population cannot remain immune to fear of  Hindu ire, as  state govts  increasingly indulge in cow slaughter  ban politics. This fall, the widow of Dr Abhijit Roy  shall spend her first puja without  her  hubby  and  family of  Kalaburgi  shall  lament his gruesome murder.

The more people across globe are coming together and reaching each other in a moment, globe is getting more and more  fragmented  by narrow domestic walls. Festival of walls, lamented  an old man  staying across border on Bangla side, India is building 4k km of barbed fence around Bangla … And lingua minority of Assam is worried and crying troubles as BJP softens its stand on Hindu Bangladeshi minorities entering Assam.

This autumn is good for 3 bigha chhitmahal corridor residents, as they got citizenship…  When Berlin wall was down, just 16 borders divided earth, today there are over 65 international walls. This fall celebrates bloodbath across apartheid wall of Gaza, thrusting curse of just 10% of its rich GDP on to Gaza strip… Hungary has built 4m border at Serbia border to prevent Syrian influx. Even Kenya, Saudi and Turkey are building fences ,  which is more to prevent jihadists from neighboring Syria, Somalia and Iraq. This autumn is one of worst for Nigerian women sexually enslaved by Boko Haram, breeding a whole new gen to jihadists. And this is the worst fall for Kurdish ladies being sold by ISIS. But Cocaine still reaches Manhattan coffee tables daily.

And  Dr Roy’s widow and  Kalaburgi’s  widow and Ananthmurthy’s family shall  rejoice that a caste census mad  govt  has found to its surprise that 29 lac or 3 million people of India have stated  clearly that they do not have any religion, they are non believers / atheists. While most of states have 6 to 9 crore of Hindus, today UP is habitat to 16 crore Hindus , 4 crore Muslims are relenting the  revengeful ire of  Hindus after MY  dadagiri for 2 decades.

Coming to migrant saga, in Budapest observed a reporter lady kicking a  refugee  girl and  tripping a man carrying a child , as 2529 migrants including 455 children entered Hungary. 175 km long border could not bar them from that. As a wave of 7000 refugees were blocked from entering EU and Macedonia declared an emergency, Greece also joined teargas and gas. Still over 1 lac asylum seekers, double 2014 volume, have celebrated Eid in refugee camps this year. Aug2015 has seen an astronomical influx rate of 1500 per day; Israel also released 100s of migrants from a desert detection center. And saddest part of the saga is, you pay $ 5k to a human smuggler to get self smuggled, but you know, your probability to survive is too feeble. After a shipwreck killed 800 migrants, 28 nations EU decided distribution of   asylums to migrants.  Rescuers recovered 111 bodies off Libya coast from a sunk boat that carried as high as 400. Just 198 could be rescued. Libya’s 1770 km strong coastline has become a transit camp for Syrians to cross over to life in EU, a land of lesser death / better life probability. Every ill fated boat passenger survived contended having paid as high as $1600 to a boatman alone. And in just 1 night of Saturday, between 4 to 10K migrants entered Austria & it is alleged that that night Hungary packed bus full of refugees to Austria. Marchers, blood peeling off oozier feet, ultimately secured a pledge of $ 666500 from EU; Finnish govt sanctioned 30k refugees’ asylum & a warm welcome from ‘mother’ Angela Merkel. But all these, after a baby corpse arrived at a beach. Also, France committed 24k, Germany 31k, UK 20k, Spain 15k, Venezuela 20k refugees. Chile and brazil are also dramatically  open.

Refugees in Uruguay are infuriated over huge cost of living. And Greece has already asked for $ 10.6mn aid for 10k refugees already regd. And hardly any consent has arrived from ANZ the Pacific region & also  US. It is surprisingly pathetic, as it is US, who are responsible for all mid east crisis. And it is true that a job heaven or miniature thereof, as promised by US is a solution to the crisis. How long can any refugee sustain on aids? Question is, who shall untap the vast span of informal economy in Egypt, Tunisia & Algeria? Who shall formalize these assets? Is it not the responsibility of the prime war monger nation of the world to create such wealth and industry in such nations ravaged by  their own Frankenstein the ISIS ? Let them flow some aid / budget other than war industry as well. Just 10K Syrians’ admission to US is not a solution, nor a memorandum to settle 65k; solution is to bring back them to life, to upgrade living conditions at camps.
Now let us be back to our home front.

Our India also suffers from a incoherent refugee policy / law and are  still  treating all refugees from neighbors with adhocism. India is a nation still suffering from a) lack of rule of law and an effective judicial system, thereby diminishing democratic values; b) lack of transparent public policy  based on data analysis,  c) a corrupt opaque governance, d) lack of spending on education n especially R&D n analysis in colleges and universities , resulting in none of our institutions getting into 1st 100 of the world ; nor any vocational institution is above mediocrity.

This autumn, the India still reeling under worst of draught &  farmer suicides , shall probably see  one of  the worst festivities in the  world.  Farmer deaths are common even in China, then what is the big deal?  The big deal is the decline by NDA govt in allocation on all welfare schemes  Just Re1/- a/c  for 10 crore is not enough, out of Rs 16 lac crore invested  by banks , Rs 6 lac crore  are with a handful of industries &  around Rs 2 lac crore are bad / NPA; just an infusion of Rs 50K crore for MSMEs is not enough. Employment potential per Rs crore is 10-15 for MSMEs, against 1-2 per crore for  big giants. Also, our population is 1.3 billion against 1.42 billion of China today & land utilization of China is just 40% , so we have to look after farmers & not evict them off  land without compensation. Through payment banks, all the 70 cr people  that have mobile connection should have  latrines & connectivity to bank a/cs. Just 1.2% of GDP spend  on health cannot ensure Health for all,  to cover our farmers &  laborers crucial for Make in India, we need to spend 2.5%-3%.Our NITI Udyog has declined any further health investment by GOI. Now we all a/c holders have policy coverage from LIC.  But can it take care of mediclaims?  Can GOI absolve its responsibility by opening NPS at our own costs & limiting its contribution to just Rs 1k?  How long shall it blow drums by spending hardly anything in Varanasi for sanitation? When shall our rivers go unpolluted? How can we have educated betis without GOI’s contribution ?  A specific provision with tax benefit / exemption can only yield substantial benefits for women literacy and sanitation .  This autumn needs more Bill Gates among Indian billionaires & also demand the permit to work for the likes of Gates Foundation, albeit, they must file returns u/ FCNR.

In a world , where 80 billionaires possess riches of $ 1.9trillion > 3.5billion people’s cumulative wealth, a festive autumn / Xmas carol demands some more distribution of equity and justice and egalitarianism. And, nevertheless, Namo’s beats of own trumpets shall not hold good, unless reductions in allocations to  literacy for all by 20%, to midday meal scheme by 30%, national secondary education movement by 29%  are reversed to equivalent increases. There is a role of state in a welfare economy, the earlier Mr Pangharia or Mr Arvind Subramanian understands, the better. Whatever HDI rise India has achieved are far from Gujarat & could be achieved through economics’ practical implementation. From a govt that is hardly bothered to reverse the queue of rationalist literary geniuses from foregoing their awards, & determined to replace likes of Romila Thapars with incompetent rightist historians, what better festival  can we expect?



[ANINDA GHOSH]





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