Future of Kolkata

Discussion in 'Religion & Culture' started by Singh, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    [h=1]Why Kolkata Will Win In 20 Years[/h]Which Indian city has the best infrastructure, the most attractive culture? In a nation where Nasscom says 90% of all graduates are unemployable, which city produces many times more competent people than it can hire? Which city is our greatest net exporter of talent? Which city will win in 20 years?


    Kolkata.


    This is ridiculous, because Kolkata lags Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai and even Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune in attracting investment. It has no software economy and no financial sector. What industry they inherited, Bengalis have packed off efficiently.


    [​IMG]
    Relic: Kolkata still has hand-pulled rickshaws not found anywhere in the world.



    It is ridiculous because Bengalis don’t even have a proper trading class, and use the word “
    bene” (baniya) with contempt.

    How is such a place fertile for capital?


    Then there is the matter of the anarchy. Even by India’s low standard, Kolkata is a monumental mess. Little governance is visible on its roads, which the state has surrendered to the population and shows no desire of retaking.

    But Kolkata has assets, chief among them its people. In a world where cultures must integrate, Bengalis have built one of our most attractive and open cultures. More about this later.

    If you were to close your eyes and imagine the city without its grubby occupants, Kolkata actually has the finest infrastructure of any Indian city. Options for getting around the city include a Metro (not found in Mumbai), local trains (not found in Delhi), taxis (not found in Bangalore), trams (not found anywhere in India) and hand-pulled rickshaws (not found anywhere in the world).

    It is even possible, though it isn’t advisable, to walk one’s way around the city because it has footpaths, something supposedly urban centres like Gurgaon and Bangalore don’t have.

    The problem is only that all this great infrastructure is poorly managed. And actually it is very easily remedied. New tram cars running on these same tracks can transform inner city commuting. It is the middle class (not the poor) that uses the rickshaw in the old city lanes of north Kolkata. A boost in their incomes will mean bigger fares for the destitute Biharis who pull them around.

    Kolkata’s taxis run on metered fare, unlike in most of India, and need only to be more modern.


    The systems are in place. A little governance is required to get the economy moving. A man or small group of people charged with making the city attractive for investment can transform Kolkata in five years. I’m tempted to say it should be one of the Bengali-speaking Gujaratis or Marwaris who support Trinamool. They will know what to do and instinctively connect with those who have capital. Labour unions are not relevant in the IT industry where retaining trained talent is the problem and not job security. A little assurance from Kolkata that it will not be aggressive on such issues for white collar workers will get businessmen excited.


    Let us turn to culture, Bengal’s priceless asset.


    He is useless at managing his own economy, true, but the Bengali represents the moral end of our politics.
    The Communists and Mamata Banerjee can be accused of many things. Being corrupt and being communal are not among them. Perhaps they don’t really know how to make money in office, but their open-mindedness is deliberate and comes from within. The city of Kolkata is Britain’s gift to Bengal, a one-city state. Bengalis have responded by producing an urban culture that is sophisticated and modern.


    This gives them an attractive duality. Middle-class Bengalis are comfortable and, importantly, urbane in both English and Bengali. They can express modern ideas in their language, which is supple and can accommodate words from other languages easily (“bourgeois”). This separates them from much of India.


    High culture comes from Kolkata’s bhadra, who is Kayastha/Brahmin/ Baidyi (Vaidya). Along with southern Maharashtra and northern Karnataka, Kolkata is the place that produces classical musicians at will.


    Despite having a majority Muslim population, Bengal’s nationalism has coalesced around Bengali language, not religion.
    One reason Bangladesh isn’t Pakistan is that it is insufficiently Islamized. But why? Because the gentle leavening of Rabindric culture has resisted the harsh call of an Arab social order.


    Bengal is animist, and its riverine geography has retained the river-based culture of our ancients. This culture the Bong carries with him where he goes. Bengalis are among our most ubiquitous professionals. They dominate the media and are represented heavily in services and academia, and in higher management. They are all-rounders. They bring a sense of quality and aesthetic that is uncommon.


    Let one example suffice. The best designed newspaper in India is Anandabazar Patrika. Its puja-special magazine is a thing of beauty and not to be compared with what other Indian newspapers produce.


    The outsider who can look past the grime and the soot will find much that is rewarding in Kolkata.


    It is our only city to have a Chinatown. It is our football capital, with a proper and passionate football following. This integrates it with Europe and in time, when there is money in Bengali sport, this will be one of the city’s big assets.
    There is history on Kolkata’s roads, and many people will come to see it if they are shown it—the homes of Tagore and Vivekananda, Victoria Memorial and the lovely British-built areas around Park Street. Also the great spiritual centres that were founded around the city and radiated their message of soft Hinduism across India.


    Kolkata is altogether more relaxed in the mingling of the sexes. This is something I’ve noticed in all cultures where honour isn’t at a premium, and it is the same in Gujarat. Single women are comfortable in the company of men.
    Kolkata has excellent places to eat and drink. Meat is served, and alcohol is freely available. Bengalis don’t have the fake morality of some of our other cultures.


    Gujarat covers itself with hypocrisy. An Ahmedabad daily I worked at reported a few years ago that the majority of licensed drinkers in the city also insisted on prohibition. Why? “That’s our culture,” they said.


    On leaving the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and becoming the chief minister of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan’s big initiative has been to raise the drinking age in Mumbai to 25. He spent years learning at Manmohan Singh’s knee, but the peasant’s instinct isn’t easily exorcised. Another Maratha, R.R. Patil, abolished the city’s beautiful dance bars. Between them, the pious Marathas have done satyanash of that city. Piety is a personal value and not to be inflicted on another, but this is difficult for some cultures to internalize.


    It isn’t that Kolkata isn’t devout, and there is no celebration like Durga Puja anywhere in the world. This much religious fervour would otherwise always inject a harder edge into the air. Like it does during Ahmedabad’s annual rath yatra, whose organizers insist that its floats parade through the Muslim ghettos of Shahpur, Kalupur and Dariyapur. Floats on which akhara braves, bare-chested, display their valour. What does Sri Vishnu have to do with bodybuilding?
    Kolkata’s puja is festive, and inclusive. Not threatening, not menacing.


    From either end of the subcontinent, two disparate states observe India pass them by. Gujarat and Poschim Bongo (should we now call them Bongolis?) are two states that don’t fall neatly into our north-south division.
    Both states have missed making money in the new economy.


    Gujarat has missed out despite having outstanding infrastructure— power, roads—and access to capital. All that fledgling information technology firms need. It has governance but does not have the fundamental ingredient: human capital. Oriented towards trade, its urban class is uninterested in, for the most part contemptuous about, employment. English isn’t spoken in Gujarat, even by the elite, for Gujarati delivers the most important function of modern language—communicating complex economic thought.


    This will not change for a very long time. Kolkata has a different problem: It lacks governance. But by way of human capital it is India’s wealthiest city. Twenty years ago, this meant little and Kolkata’s brightest minds left the city. Today it is gold.


    I always enjoy visiting Kolkata, even if by the third day of looking at the happy poverty and the chaos the mind turns to thoughts of escape.


    All Indian cities have problems. Few also contain solutions. It is entirely possible, and I think most likely, that Bengalis will be able to sort out theirs, which are quite minor. Kolkata will then be one of the world’s great cities again.
    Such a beautiful and cultured people deserve it.

    Why Kolkata will win in 20 years - Columns - livemint.com



     
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  3. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    Hope Back in Calcutta

    Hope Back in Calcutta


    There was a time, somewhere in my distant childhood, when the 'season', beginning with Christmas and culminating in the New Year, was centred, not on Goa, but on Calcutta. It was 'burra din', the time when Park Street (now renamed Mother Teresa Sarani) was lit up to resemble Oxford Street in the only other city the elite of Calcutta identified with. It was the time of the Test match at Eden Gardens and the races on New Year’s Day. And it was the time of roasts and plum puddings laced with a dollop of brandy butter.

    Alas, that was before the Reds stepped in and turned Kolkata into a city of gloom. By the time the Left Front was removed last year, the spirit had been squeezed out of the second city of the Empire. Instead, Kolkata became a city with a glorious past and an uncertain future. The reality was symbolized by the imposing buildings in varying stages of dereliction.

    Returning to the city for the ‘season’ this year after more than 15 years, what was striking was the revival of hope. The Tourism Department of the state government had organized a Christmas festival on Park Street which was brightly lit and the restaurants were crowded and buzzing with activity. There was a gaiety that had earlier been missing. On Christmas Day, the temperature was a degree below London. And while the sahibs took out their tweeds and ties, the wags were quick to comment that ‘Didi’ Mamata Banerjee had done one better than the city that she holds as the ideal for Kolkata.

    What came as a bigger eye-opener was how little the conversations in the clubs or ‘athome’ drinks parties focused on either Anna Hazare’s show in Mumbai or the Lokpal debates in Parliament. It is not that West Bengal doesn’t have its share of graft and bureaucratic sloth. It is just that a city that had got back a glimmer of hope was too busy celebrating the likelihood of a better future.

    From the perspective of the metros, the elements of hope may be woefully modest and even flaunting in Kolkata is sober by the exacting standards of Delhi and Mumbai. But the point to note is that Kolkata didn’t feel the political acrimony and the gloom-and-doom story that has overwhelmed much of India.

    The young Indian Civil Service recruits were taught in Haileybury that “whatever is true of India the opposite is equally true.” The lesson was worth remembering. Only too often , generalizations are made about India on the strength of a partial reality in Delhi. If Delhi shivers, the rest of India is also thought to be in the midst of a cold wave.

    The more we gauge the Indian reality, the more we realize that the ‘idea of India’ — a phrase so favoured by over-concerned TV anchors — is just another of those expedient myths we love to bandy about. There is undoubtedly an India that exists during war and cricket matches, but the idea varies from place to place and from city to city. This diversity is something that neither the Planning Commission nor the architects of mega welfare schemes have been inclined to accept.

    For the Delhi-based pan-Indian elite, political power emanates from the national capital and filters downwards. The reality, however, is that the country is made up of clusters of regional elites whose aspirations and priorities are very different, and why not?

    A simple Christmas celebration in Kolkata , Navratra in Ahmedabad and Ganesh chaturthi in Mumbai tells us more about the different Indias than all the proceedings of the Delhi-centric National Advisory Council. It tells us that a dysfunctional India doesn’t become a reality when the Centre loses its way. It happens when a paralysed Centre prevents the regions
    from achieving their true potential by concentrating too much power in Delhi.


    These days the talk is about democratization and accountability. These lofty goals become far more meaningful when Indian federalism becomes what it was intended to be: a Union of states. When Kolkata smiles and Delhi is gloomy, not least because some Bengali politicians are flexing their muscles, you instinctively know that something right is happening, somewhere.Street (now renamed Mother Teresa Sarani) was lit up to resemble Oxford Street in the only other city the elite of Calcutta identified with. It was the time of the Test match at Eden Gardens and the races on New Year’s Day. And it was the time of roasts and plum puddings laced with a dollop of brandy butter.


    Alas, that was before the Reds stepped in and turned Kolkata into a city of gloom. By the time the Left Front was removed last year, the spirit had been squeezed out of the second city of the Empire. Instead, Kolkata became a city with a glorious past and an uncertain future. The reality was symbolized by the imposing buildings in varying stages of dereliction.


    Returning to the city for the ‘season’ this year after more than 15 years, what was striking was the revival of hope. The Tourism Department of the state government had organized a Christmas festival on Park Street which was brightly lit and the restaurants were crowded and buzzing with activity. There was a gaiety that had earlier been missing. On Christmas Day, the temperature was a degree below London. And while the sahibs took out their tweeds and ties, the wags were quick to comment that ‘Didi’ Mamata Banerjee had done one better than the city that she holds as the ideal for Kolkata.


    What came as a bigger eye-opener was how little the conversations in the clubs or ‘athome’ drinks parties focused on either Anna Hazare’s show in Mumbai or the Lokpal debates in Parliament. It is not that West Bengal doesn’t have its share of graft and bureaucratic sloth. It is just that a city that had got back a glimmer of hope was too busy celebrating the likelihood of a better future.


    From the perspective of the metros, the elements of hope may be woefully modest and even flaunting in Kolkata is sober by the exacting standards of Delhi and Mumbai. But the point to note is that Kolkata didn’t feel the political acrimony and the gloom-and-doom story that has overwhelmed much of India.


    The young Indian Civil Service recruits were taught in Haileybury that “whatever is true of India the opposite is equally true.” The lesson was worth remembering. Only too often , generalizations are made about India on the strength of a partial reality in Delhi. If Delhi shivers, the rest of India is also thought to be in the midst of a cold wave.


    The more we gauge the Indian reality, the more we realize that the ‘idea of India’ — a phrase so favoured by over-concerned TV anchors — is just another of those expedient myths we love to bandy about. There is undoubtedly an India that exists during war and cricket matches, but the idea varies from place to place and from city to city. This diversity is something that neither the Planning Commission nor the architects of mega welfare schemes have been inclined to accept.


    For the Delhi-based pan-Indian elite, political power emanates from the national capital and filters downwards. The reality, however, is that the country is made up of clusters of regional elites whose aspirations and priorities are very different, and why not?


    A simple Christmas celebration in Kolkata , Navratra in Ahmedabad and Ganesh chaturthi in Mumbai tells us more about the different Indias than all the proceedings of the Delhi-centric National Advisory Council. It tells us that a dysfunctional India doesn’t become a reality when the Centre loses its way. It happens when a paralysed Centre prevents the regions from achieving their true potential by concentrating too much power in Delhi.


    These days the talk is about democratization and accountability. These lofty goals become far more meaningful when Indian federalism becomes what it was intended to be: a Union of states. When Kolkata smiles and Delhi is gloomy, not least because some Bengali politicians are flexing their muscles, you instinctively know that something right is happening, somewhere.


    Sunday Times of India, January 1, 2012
     
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  4. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    kolkata is le cesspoole when compared to other metro's when it comes to infrastructure.But the people's attitudes when it comes to help is absolutely charming when compared to Delhi or Hyd
     
  5. H.A.

    H.A. Senior Member Senior Member

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    I don't agree with you on the attitude part....I do not know about Delhi or Hyd, however i have always observed that a Bengal person will not adjust or compromise....saying this out of personal experience
     
  6. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Tuesday, October 19, 2004

    Oh, Kolkata! - By Suhel Seth


    After several years, I spent six nights in Kolkata, which, thankfully enough, were like spending six nights in heaven after the kind of lives we lead in the Delhis and Mumbais of the world. There are no pressures of work; there is almost an embedded fait accompli in people's demeanour, which many a time suggests that this is the pace we follow, and bad luck to you if you don't like it. I also had the luxury of spending these six nights in unbridled comfort at what is certainly the finest resort hotel in India: the ITC Sonar Bangla. The editor of this paper, M.J. Akbar, thankfully agrees that the charm of Kolkata has still not dimmed, which is why the last time he and I were in Kolkata together we spoiled ourselves at the various impromptu dinners that were held in our honour.

    There is also a certain basket of values that never escapes Kolkata. The city just doesn't care who you are as long as you, at some time in your life, have been a part of it. Which is why even the empty barstools at the Light Horse Bar at Saturday Club tell you tales you may have heard aeons ago. The butter chicken at Kwality's tastes just as good and thank god the ever evolving Priya Paul has done nothing to modernise the cuisine of Flury's which still serves up the best rum cakes and chicken patties! I went back to some of our theatre haunts and remembered with great affection the time I spent with Ashoke Viswanathan savouring the Afghani chicken at Sutripti or partaking of Bacchus' generosity at Chota Barrister.

    I even drove past the famed Lover's Lane several times just to relive those moments when we would sneak our girlfriend of the time to play hooky under a starry sky until the ubiquitous Kolkata sergeant would show up on his well-preserved Bullet motorcycle. I watched with fondness the various cricket matches going on in the Maidan and the same Maya Ram pao bhaji being advertised with gusto. I took an afternoon off and strolled within the corridors of Jadavpur University and was delighted to see Tommy Hilfiger stickers outside the SFI office: even the
    communists have realised the worth of Tommy.

    But has Kolkata really changed? Have the people become smarter in terms of making the best of every opportunity? I think not. And this is why Kolkata is still such a special place to be. The only place where a lunch is incomplete without a Campari; where there is a distinction between the dining room and the smoking room and where round-collared T-shirts still find no acceptance in club bars. There is also a certain panache that Kolkata has with regard to the music you hear. Item girls and Daler Mehndi have still not replaced Barry Manilow or for that matter Nat King Cole. There are hundreds who can still recite their school song and have preserved their college blazers and not replaced them with some foreign brands. Where photographs are in photo frames and not in cupboards, so
    that you can litter your drawing room with garish vases. It is this about th e city that makes it so special.

    I took long walks in the malls only to witness for myself, first-hand, the consumerism that has invaded Kolkata and then I thought to myself, why not. If Kolkata can erect malls and frequent them without forgetting the Victoria Memorial or the National Library, then more power to its collective elbows. I smiled when I saw the queue of people trying to enter the American Centre. In no other city are libraries as crowded as cinema halls. And that is because Kolkata still has a mind when all others are busy losing theirs.

    Many years ago I was part of a movement called "Concern for Calcutta" and it delighted me no end to see that Ward 63 was still sprinkled with the work that CC, as it was known then, was doing. It is perhaps the only city in the world which has a nature study park in the costliest real estate of that city. I went to Dalhousie Institute and saw an
    impromptu quiz just as I went to CC&FC and saw prompted drinking happening. The other unique dimension about this city is, if you belong here, you are never a guest when you return.

    The family asks you no questions: it merely expresses unbridled delight in seeing you back. You can walk into dinners and parties alike; to cricket matches and merchant's cup soccer matches on the back of your past. Kolkata doesn't really care about the present or what you are up to!

    The visit was even more special because I staged two shows of our English play Alipha: and the memories rushed back of a time when I would be staging a play almost once every three months. The halls as beautiful and the audience as well-behaved. No one picking up his or her mobile phone and screaming Advani or Sonia. Just watching what they've come to watch intently and with the respect it deserves.

    Sometimes, only sometimes, I wish we could throw the residents out of Delhi and replace them with Kolkatans. The purging would mean so much to all of us. But then when one ponders, one is Gratified that Kolkata is still a city of remarkable joy. Of prose and passion. Of poetry and phuchka. Of people and, thankfully, no prejudices."

    Around the World: Oh, Kolkata! - By Suhel Seth
     
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  7. Menhit

    Menhit Regular Member

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    The opening post of this thread has made me some what nostalgic. Governance is a huge problem not only in Kolkata but, in whole Bengal. People are nice, disciplined and hard working but, opportunities in Bengal are dying. Although, I am not a fan of capitalistic kind of growth, place has become even socially stagnant. May be a powerful and charismatic leader can solve this governance problem in future.
     
  8. Shadow

    Shadow Regular Member

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    Being a citizen of West Bengal,I personally feel that whatever developments have taken place,all was Kolkata centric.Being a citizen of North Bengal to be specific,I must say admit that I have hardly witnessed any infrastructural development in North.The Tea estates of dooars and Darejelling most of the time remains locked, employers cry foul but only hollow assurances are given.Regarding health care the least i speak the better it is.The condition of roads is Pathetic and apart from Siliguri,I barely find any place with basic infrastructure.People here often say that bengal is only and only limited to Kolkata.
     
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  9. Menhit

    Menhit Regular Member

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    ^well actually, I would disagree with you here because outside Kolkata, Durgapur and Asansol have been developed well. Also, now there is a railway connecting Kolkata to coastal Bengal which was not present in past.
     
  10. Shadow

    Shadow Regular Member

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    Yeah,but take a notice that the cities which u have mentioned are a part of Southern Bengal,North is still treated as an orphan
     
  11. Menhit

    Menhit Regular Member

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    ^yes, but I think it is because most of industries are located in Southern Bengal because of the region's proximity to Ganges and Indian Ocean.
     
  12. bose

    bose Senior Member Senior Member

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    It would have been better for Kolkata, had the developement well spreadout across north and south...
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2013
  13. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    The northern belt was a part of the Kingdom of Cooch Behar.

    [​IMG]

    Cooch Behar district (Bengali: কোচবিহার জেলা, Rajbongshi/Kamatapuri : কোচবিহার) is a district of the state of West Bengal, India, as well as the district's namesake town. During the British Raj, the town of Cooch Behar was the seat of a princely state of Koch Bihar, ruled by the Koch dynasty. As of 2011 it is the third least populous district of West Bengal (out of 19), after Dakshin Dinajpur and Darjeeling.

    Being a Raj, it was agrarian and the necessity to expand villages depending on their agricultural land was never felt since industry and development was not felt the need of the hour.

    The British, on the other hand, in the adjoining area developed extensive tea estates which were in the hands of British private entrepreneurs.

    Quite a sizeable area is under forest cover or with tea estates.

    The trading centres have naturally developed into towns, but since the large part of the area is under private ownership (tea gardens or orchards as in Malda) not much infrastructural development has taken place.

    The British did not develop the area for the reason that there were areas for good hunting as also they kept the people dependent on tea gardens and in an indolent lifestyle.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2013
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  14. chase

    chase Tihar Jail Banned

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    What a joke?! Kolkata has no hope with these armchair revolutionaries bengalis who support communism either in form of CPI or Mamta Dayan. It is swelling with jihadi bangladeshis who will one day try to curb freedom of women,thought etc.

    Kolkata and WB has little hope until bangladeshis are either killed or exported out back to BD.
     
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  15. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    @Singh, apropos your opening post from LiveMint, Delhi has local EMU trains.
     
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  16. PredictablyMalicious

    PredictablyMalicious Punjabi Senior Member

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    Kolkata has no hope, for the same reason that Dhaka has no hope.
     
  17. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Capitalism is the solution. The commies have ruined everything. Mamata is more commie than commies themselves
     
  18. Menhit

    Menhit Regular Member

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    ^Capitalism seems to be fine because our current global scenario is being dominated by it but, as a system capitalism is very much exploitive. A few people get advantage while the mass rots. Current global disparities both economic and social has a lot to do with capitalism. Whose development when farmers are doing suicide and labors working under sub-human conditions in factories? Handful of people enjoying life by engaging others in bloody wars. Behind all these evils lie the treacherous system of Capitalism.
     
  19. arnabmit

    arnabmit Homo Communis Indus Senior Member

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  20. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Benign capitalism is the answer.

    Crass capitalism is a bane and it requires to be harnessed and balanced between the profits for the capitalist to sustain him and progress further, and yet, having a social content wherein the common man is not too hard pressed to make two ends meet.
     
  21. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Point me to a good example where socialism worked for the good of all and was equitable? The so called exploitation by capitalist few of the larger masses is myth. Anyways we have seen socialism as a cover for suppressing the masses and mass murder #Stalin #Mao #Kims etc etc

    Western capitalist have better social security than any socialist system can think of.
     
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