Oh Bengal

I wish I could wake one day to find all corruption gone in my state of West Bengal and everyone starting anew!


Hindi is an official language not the national language of India


People like to hear and say what they like. While completing my college and living in a campus close to New Delhi many years back I had to face several arguments about this topic. I had varied responses at different times at times countering and at times brushing aside the comments from the other side. Chances are that in school I had read the same civics books as those who believe Hindi to be the national language of India and not just one of the many official languages. However both sides in this case were confident me probably more from the inside because I had a recollection of those lines from the New Delhi based C.B.S.E. text book and the teacher’s words. It may not be accurate to say that the other side faked confidence as they grew up in the cow belt or in Punjab/Haryana/Rajasthan/Himachal/Uttaranchal where the patronage for Hindi is far greater than from where I come from. It also goes without saying that teachers will always provide a subtle emphasis on the interpretation they like i.e. India has no national language [period] or that India has no national language but Hindi is the most widely spoken language. This matters when said to an audience of impressionable teenagers especially in the years gone by when we used to learn more at home and school than from the TV and the internet.

In this blog post I am not undermining the depth of Hindi activism as a whole. The Hindi heart land of India has many independent languages and dialects like Bhojpuri, Maithili, Awadhi, Pahari, Bundelkhandi, Braj Bhasa, Hariyanvi, Punjabi, Marwari, Mewari etc. Many people who vouch for a more dominant role for Hindi may not speak Hindi at home and with friends as it is not their mother tongue and they may be versed in multiple Indian languages. However it is also very true that for many Indians India means an experiment with secularism and equality, of the plurality and coexistence of cultures, religions and languages and friendship between people in spite of different cultures, languages and religions not friendships solely based on sameness. It is this idea that many cherish and find hope in.

However irrespective of what India’s constitution lays out in terms of lingual equality activism related to Hindi is unsettling to those who do not subscribe to it. At the same time other Indian language speakers and enthusiasts can take inspiration from the Hindi movement and promote and produce literature, movies, music,  business dealings, e-commerce in their own mother tongues and realize that there is a world outside English. Outside Harry Potter, Twilight, 50 shades of grey, Avatar, Prometheus, Inception, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn etc. Too bad that I am blogging this in English too [lol]. But I like catching up with the latest Bengali movies in the cinema halls when I am in Kolkata or online [paid sites only; say no to piracy] and read the news in Bengali frequently. At the same time a side effect of a growth focused era needs to be stated. A society highly focused on economic growth will more likely seek a uniformity in spoken and written language as it is merely a method of communication in this context. Just like an individual a society makes its own choice of how much cultural baggage it caries, how much it keeps its shoulders free to sprint forward. It remains to be seen hence what happens to all that is non english in the decades to come.

Thanking you.Yours unfortunately Kolkata and West Bengal

Having followed news headlines on Kolkata /West Bengal for more than one decade it is evident that it is only hope that it survives on. There seems no signs of a face-lift  neither a silent revolution. For every news headline announcing the completion of something there are ten headlines announcing that something is being promised as being done and another five headlines announcing the cessation of good things. The only silent movement has been the migration of talent and labour to other states and parts of the world.

Low attrition points to a hidden disadvantage for Kolkata

Kolkata Office Areas - Source Wikipedia Images

Kolkata Office Areas – Source Wikipedia Images

There was a time when private companies/corporations based in Kolkata and branch offices of national and international companies especially Information Technology companies used to take pride in the low staff attrition rates prevalent in the Kolkata offices. This is partly due to limited job opportunities as a result of fewer companies and the tendency of most Bengalis to feel content with his or her life and current income.
The roots of the above issue which created a boon earlier has now created a bane. Companies find it difficult to expand operations due to poor availability of human capital. Many (maybe be most) commerce, arts, science and engineering graduates from this region planning to work move to other cities in India. Mangers find it hard to staff open positions with good resources and the work place continues to be boring with employees sharing a similar background.

MP3 files in the age of cloud and music services: MP3s as collectables

So how many of you buy and download mp3 files still. A lot of people are moving away from downloading a file to their computers. Many more do not buy the tracks they want to listen and instead subscribe to a music service like Pandora or Spotify. But let me share what I like doing. I am old school and I still like buying mp3 files online and downloading them. The My Music library on my Windows is like a treasure trove to me. It contains Indie dance, Smooth Jazz, Rock, Pop from the 80s through to the latest hits, Club, Electronica, Bollywood songs, Indian pop and Bengali tracks. To see those 20 gigabytes of music files in one place makes me exclaim wow what a rich collection I have accumulated over the years. It is a testament to what I like to hear, a testament to me and it is present in that hard drive.

One of my friends suggested that I switch over to music services completely. He is the regular kind of ‘latest hits’ listener to whom I cannot explain that an mp3 file with its tags, media info, album art and sound is a collectable to me and not just a file on my computer.
When I was in school, I used to wish of a having a huge cupboard having hundreds of cassettes and compact discs. Well with the pocket money I used to get I could only manage a hundred and not several hundreds. With the advent of digital music I have forgotten that little wish. But storing my entire collection online on the cloud (I do keep a copy of my music files on the cloud but that is just for back up) or not buying music at all and instead paying to subscribe to music services are not things which excite me. However, Pandora, Spotify, Youtube and their cousins are not bad when I said what I said above. These places are wonderful places to discover new music, develop taste for varieties you were never sure about earlier (like Indie) and meet likeminded listener friends. I credit my new found crush on Indie dance music to Pandora. For your information I buy my mp3s from ivave.com. They sell cheap at 5 cents and I am able to find 95% of the tracks I look to buy and for the remaining I turn to Amazon.

Apple iTunes Music Store open in India

I was ranting the other day about India not having enough online stores to buy music. Just then Apple announced the opening of iTunes Music store in India. I am travelling back to India in Jan 2013 for long term and this is good news to me others and like me in India.