Land Reforms....
Apropos the review of my book ‘Land Reforms in Left Regime’ (Frontier, June 10-16, 2018), I humbly submit the following:
Mr Anirban Biswas has remarked "Regarding the process of acquisition and redistribution of vested (Khas) land, the author has not discussed much. Here two points should be noted. One is that the total amount of land redistributed is less than the amount of redistribution over the pre-Left Front period as a whole. The second point is that the redistributed plots of land could and should have brought under different forms of cooperative farming by organising poor peasants".

Perhaps Mr Biswas has missed to mark that chapter VI titled, Panchayet And The Land Question deals entirely with the issue in three sections—Question of Vested Land, Politics of Vested Land Distribution and Continuing Inconsistencies. Regarding the first point, I may be allowed to cite a few lines from Chapter VI—"two vital incongruities remained unresolved. (1) While ceiling surplus land vested upto March, 2011 was 29,90,872.35 acre, vested and distributed upto March, 2011 was 11,33,336.90 acre. A wide gap (18,57,535.45 acre) between land vested and land distributed is glaringly in evidence. But why? Though it was often attributed to the stay orders by Land Reforms Tenancy Tribunal (LRTT) and also court injunctions, that progress in this respect was at a snail's pace is crystal clear. (2) The number of recorded Pattadars, mainly landless peasants, stood at 30,47,803 upto March, 2011. It was almost double the number of Bargadars-15,16,669 recorded upto March, 2011. Allegedly, the Pattaholders were often losing the possession of their Pattas as they fell victims of reverse tenancy mostly in the hands of the landowners whose ceilings surplus land was vested." (Pg-115).

As for the second point is concerned Chapter VII clearly states—"It is a pity while return from the farm sector was often branded non-remunerative any attempt was seldom made to catch up with cooperative farming. Cooperative terming and/or Corporate farming could not only pave the way for utmost utilisation of human resources, but could also ease the process of marketing—from production to distribution of agro products—freeing it from the shackles of middlemen. Various agro-processing industries could also develop under such farming. What is more, it could ensure the livelihood of a large number of landless agricultural labourers. Unfortunately, it did not happen like that". (Pg-131).

Finally, in view of my long association with this venerable journal, I would like to add that from ‘Operation Barga’ to 75:25 share cropping arrangement, minimum wage syndrome, Panchayet functioning and related issues were frequently discussed about in the late seventies and early eighties of the previous century in my 'Village Notebook' column in Frontier—the relevant issues of the journal have been duly referred to in several chapters in my book but unfortunately the same has not been mentioned anywhere in the review. Nevertheless, I am thankful to Mr Biswas for his overall observation specially in the concluding paragraph.
Manas Bakshi, Kolkata

The very recent Bangla movie Hami gives the audience a good exposure of the recently raging debate on the issue of security of Children in schools. The noteworthy point is, such feeling of insecurity, or even the occurence of grotesque violations of child safety inside school premises, or pool cars/Buses, are reported mostly from institutions, where sons and daughters of affluent and powerful or influential guardians are sent to, for supposedly quality education.

But in Indian context, Children are left in the custody of parents after the school hours, and the value system taught to them, comes more from the parents than their teachers. And herein lies the anomaly. In a semi-feudal, and semi-colonial mindset milieu, the innocent babies are caught in a dilemma, and the story revolves round the interpretation of those self-contradictory social values.

Hami, literally means an innocent cheek kiss practised as a mark of liking or affection, between may be mother/father/ grandparents and son/daughter/grand children, or between friends and brothers and sisters, belonging to same or opposite sex or even between teachers and students. But Indian society is torn between opposite pulls, resulting in a pervading mistrust or distrust, mutually among members of the society irrespective of economic status. Rise in crime rates, is also a contributory factor for such breach of mutual faith. The reports of gruesome murders, riots, clashes, rapes, highlighted by the media, and the fake news factory of social media, also fuel the flame of such suspicious attitude of common people, particularly among the wealthy upper middle class nuclear families, where, parents and in most cases single child, live in a virtual world of TV and Net.

The childish innocence, or youthful exuberance, nothing is above suspicion and, highly sceptic guardians, biological or social, often tempted to resist, even violently. The recent manhandling of certain, gleeful couple in Dum Dum Metro, is one example of such unsolicited moral patronage. In this film, two innocent children of opposite sexes, expressed their heartfelt affection for each other, with an innocent 'Hami', and the crisis started, rose to climax, as a result of misreporting of molestation of a poor child, in the hand of a very trusted, age old attendant of the school bus. The interaction, reactions of humbug guardians, suffering from status mania, social snobbery, and muscle flexing spree, gave an untoward turn to the situation, that went out of control for the time being. But thanks to the sincere efforts of the caring teachers, their cool and patient handling, and the misunderstanding was resolved, good sense prevailed, and finally all is well that ends well. And the spirit of original innocence, still present, at least in children, yet unspoilt by the corrupt and hackneyed approach of the guardians, wins, and celebrated in the last scene. The spectators leave the auditorium of high cost shopping Malls, or Houses, with a good spirit boost up.

Though, it is a commercial movie, and follows the track of happy ending, not so smooth in real life, still thanks to the makers, for highlighting a burning social malady of Metropolitan and Urban life.
Asis Ranjan Sengupta, Kolkata

Vol. 50, No.52, Jul 1 - 7, 2018