No retirement in Politics
BJP's veteran leader Lai Krishna Adwani has announced his decision to contest forthcoming Lok Sabha polls now at the age of 86. There should be at least some age-limit to contest direct elections. Veteran and experienced ones if needed in political system should be sent to Rajya Sabha. This is also necessary because voters in direct elections desire that their elected representative may be approachable easily for listening and caring to their day-to-day problems as well for which some energetic younger persons are best suited to be their representatives in elected bodies.

It is indeed irony that youngest democracy (India) of the world is ruled by aged political rulers where even age of 60 years is considered to be young for being in politics. In countries like US and UK, age of Presidents and Prime Ministers for their first time elected to the post is even below 50 years.

If judges, bureaucrats and all others getting salary from the public-exchequers have some retirement age, then those in legislature should also have at least some retiring age. To start with, there should be an upper age-limit of say 70 years to contest direct elections so that politicians may get retired from legislative system compulsorily by the age of 75 years. This will also tend to check unholy dynastic system in politics where several aged politicians run political parties as family business-shops with their children only to take charge as their political legacy.
Subhas Chandra Agarwal,
New Delhi

Banga pradesh
It refers to media-reports about West Bengal being renamed as Paschim Banga from coming Bangla new-year day on 14th April 2014 after formal legislation in Parliament in the last session of current Parliament starting from 5th February 2014. Basic aim of West Bengal government in renaming the state is said to be move state's number somewhat upward in the list of Indian states where presently it is listed in the last both in Roman and Devnagri scripts. Even though it may be another systematic change because proper nouns including names of states are never translated like in the present case when the state was written as West Bengal in Roman Script and Paschimi Bengal in Devnagri script, yet new name will remain as confusing as earlier.

While making some students preparing for their examinations, a student made a curious enquiry why a state in eastern part of the country is named as 'West Bengal'. Even I was not prepared for the curious question, and I had to seek explanation from my husband who clarified that since western part of pre-independence undivided Bengal came to India, the state was named as 'West Bengal', and 'East Bengal' turned into East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). To remove unnecessary confusion from minds of students and people, prefix 'West' (or Paschim) should be removed from name of the state. To avoid abbreviations like UP for Uttar Pradesh, MP for Madhya Pradesh etc, states should be named in single word. West Bengal may be simply renamed as Banga Pradesh or some similar name without any prefix.
Madhu Agarwal
New Delhi

Police Harassment
The Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) is shocked to narrate an incident of police harassment of Ms Jayasree Sarkar, a civil rights activist.

This morning(4th February) one police officer, who introduced himself as Bikash Samanta, a Special Branch Officer associated with the Baguihati police station, went to the residence of Jayasree Sarkar at Baguihati, Kolkata to interrogate her. He asked questions on her regular jail visits, the political prisoners she meets, whether they are her relatives or whether there are some special prisoners who she chooses to meet. Jayasree told the officer that she meets prisoners to provide clothes, food and other daily necessities and talk about legal matters and asserted that there is nothing illegal about it. To meet a prisoner one need not have to be a relative alone; any friend can also do so. The interview was done through proper channel. She then charged him with harassment. It went on for around half an hour and before leaving, the officer told her to present herself at Barrackpore police station, if needed. She retorted by asking why she be called to the police station when her stand has already been explained to him. After leaving her residence, that officer stood outside her home and started talking to others over his mobile phone.

The CRPP holds that the interviews with the political prisoners lodged in different jails were made through a legal process and that there was nothing illegal in it. On the contrary, it is the police officer who has acted in an illegal manner by asking such questions and intimidating her. Such trends on the part of the WB police are, needless to say, fascistic in nature and should be stopped immediately.
Amit Bhattacharyya,
Secretary General, CRPP
Sujato Bhadro,
Vice-president, CRPP
Arun Chakraborty,
Convenor, CRPP, WB Chapter

Calcutta Notebook
This refers to "Calcutta Notebook" by BJ in Frontier of January 26-February 1, 2014. After reading the first half of the article, I thought it must be a joke. Then I thought, maybe BJ and the editors of Frontier want to have some fun by provoking those who think population growth is a problem. After reading the whole article, however, it seems to me that BJ is serious.

It is not good to leave even an utterly nonsensical article uncontradicted if it appears in Frontier. Even such articles can do a lot of damage—to India, and to the world. So here is a short critique of the author's views:
(1)   BJ thankfully mentions that large numbers of Marxists and non-Marxists believe that "India's resources are getting exhausted." Does he believe that India's resources are growing day by day?
(2)  He thinks all an economy needs to produce useful goods and services is labor power. But a person with even some rudimentary knowledge of economics will tell him that for this purpose an economy needs land, labor and capital. "Land" should mean today natural resources. This person may also tell him that most of the resources a modern economy needs are exhaustible, and they are getting rapidly exhausted.
(3)  In the whole article there is no mention of the factor environment. BJ does not seem to have heard of the ongoing environmental crisis, not even of the looming climate catastrophe.
(4)  BJ knows a lot about China. But he apparently does not know that in the big cities of China it is a serious health hazard to breathe normal air. Same is the case in Delhi, where the air is more polluted than in Beijing.
(5)  If Chinese leaders are learning that "population is not a liability but an asset", why did they relax their one-child policy only a little, instead of calling upon the couples to produce a dozen children each?
(6)  And if population is an asset, why is Nepal letting its workers go to South Korea to make the Koreans richer? Why don't they grow rice on the snow-covered mountains of their own country and get rich themselves?
(7)  If it were really the only argument of India's mainstream economists who oppose population growth "that higher population deprives children of education", then they would be deemed to be as ignorant as BJ is. But good economists as they are, they know that India's resources, especially fertile land, are limited, that they are rapidly dwindling.
(8)  If the chief resource of humans, fertile land, were no problem, then there would not be any reason for the on-going mad rush for the last remaining tracts of fertile land in Africa and Latin America. And, as for the second most important resource, namely oil, why are the oil companies going to deep sea areas and even to the Arctic region to bore for oil?
Saral Sarkar

Vol. 46, No. 34, Mar 2 - 8, 2014