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Calcutta Diary by Ashok Mitra, Partha Chatterjee

By Ashok Mitra, Partha Chatterjee

The essays in Calcutta Diary first seemed within the monetary and Political Weekly in the course of the notorious 21-month Emergency imposed in India among June 1975 and March 1977. curiously, Ashok Mitra had labored with former leading Minister Indira Gandhi who had imposed the Emergency. The essays recount facets of a different and especially tricky section in modern Indian history.

This re-creation incorporates a foreword by means of eminent social scientist, Partha Chatterjee, and a concluding observation by means of the distinguished historian of South Asia, Ranajit Guha. It bargains an extraordinary portrait of Calcutta (now Kolkata) in all its dust and glory in a fashion few writers were capable of catch existence and longing during this infuriatingly memorable city in japanese India.

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All right-thinking people here are against fascism. A minister in West Bengal, famous for his plain speaking, has gone to the length of confirming that, in order to save the country from fascism, he is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice: he will himself turn into a full-fledged fascist and suppress, by well known methods, those other fascists who dare denigrate the authorities: fascism shall not pass. Fascism shall not pass, newspapers every day carry reports of meetings and conventions held in many parts of the country where the vanguards of democracy take stock of the situation, and warn the fascists: this far and no further The collective conscience of our countrymen has been roused, fascism will not make any further advance.

Sadananda Roy Chowdhury, ancestry East Bengal, scion of a land owning family, current assets reduced to just about the double-barrelled surname which testifies to the feudal lineage, is a tenant in one of these dingy, dark, claustrophobic tenements. Fiftyish, a clerk in the office of the Accountant General, West Bengal, he long ago learned to chop and prune his ambitions. A clerk is a clerk, he must not dream, he must meekly return home every evening, he must learn to wither away. Yet life sprouts.

So they wait, this throng of the young ones. They are a wizened crowd, wise much beyond their years. If you came this way, they will inform you in matter-of-fact non-poetry, starting from anywhere, at any time or at any season; it would always be the same: you would have to, rest assured, put off sense and notion. Between passing and not passing, between claiming a first-class degree and not claiming one, there is hardly any differentiation to be made: when jobs are in such short supply, the fact of an additional university degree—or the lack of it—can be, and usually is, brushed aside.

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