Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee | 9.6.19

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Democracy

Recently I read an article in which the author quotes Booker winner writer and social activist Arundhati Roy as saying “Indian Elections are mockery of what democracy is supposed to be”. (https://newrepublic.com/article/154011/arundhati-roy-indias-elections-a-mockery-democracy-supposed-be) Roy argued that in India majoritarianism,  and not democracy was prevailing.

Several other writers and  thinkers also share her views. They say, it is happening at a global scale. Populism is on the rise. People are looking at short term gains, politicians are offering them exactly that. Everything is instantified. In the rush to get short term gain and instant nirvana, we are probably ignoring or are becoming short sighted enough to see the big picture.

The public sphere is losing its credence and probably traction with what is beneficial for the society.

Part of the problem today probably lies in the democratisation of public space itself. Everyone is entitled to express themselves in any form or medium, and on any subject. And everyone does. In a single day there are 150 million exchanges on Snapchat, 1.15 billion opinions on Facebook, 500 million Twitter feeds, and a multitude of reactions on newspaper, TV and web pages. Certainly, social media platforms allow the world to be more connected, but much of the connection comprises only an unhealthy competition to be heard for a reason — for more followers, more likes, and other forms of self-adulation. With more selfies taken, every life event recorded, the self-obsession becomes desperation to gain approval from strangers. The petty personal nature of the exchanges aside, the sheer glut of useless factoids only degrades and diminishes the content of public space. And political parties are force-crowding this space with bombardment of propaganda.

In the cacophony the sane voice is probably getting lost. And the problem is in our haste to make our voice heard, hardly anybody notices that.

Children’s Literature

Children, worldwide, love to hear stories and explore the unknown. They need to be provided the opportunity for both- to develop them into fine human beings. Literature is one area that can provide both. It opens the gateway to fun, entertainment and knowledge. It satiates the curiosity of children and ignites their mind to explore more. It tells them stories that take them to a dreamland. They enjoy. They learn.

National Book Trust (NBT) established National Centre for Children’s Literature (NCCL) in 1993 to promote, create, coordinate, monitor and aid the publication of children’s literature in Indian languages. It also provides assistance and expertise to teachers, librarians, editors,  writers and illustrators by arranging creative workshops across the country especially in rural areas for promoting reading habit among children.

NCCL runs Readers Club Movement to promote the habit of reading at school level. Till date over 35,000 Readers’ Clubs have been established in the country.

NCCL also has a beautiful Children’s Library cum Documentation Centre in its Delhi office with a collection of over 15,000 books on Children’s literature in 44 languages of the world. Besides Children’s books, it has a good collection of reference books. The Centre has an aesthetically designed wall panel depicting a story from Panchatantra made of particle board.

Do visit this centre if you love Children’s books or just to soak in the ambience. I went there and was impressed. Incidentally my friend Manas Ranjan Mahapatra is the Director of the centre now.

Daryaganj

Daryaganj in Delhi with rows of offices and showrooms of publishers is like the College Street of Kolkata minus the enthusiasm with which people throng the second hand book stalls in Kolkata. Most of the publishers in Daryaganj publish and sell educational and text books, guides, self-help books, etc.

There are several publishers here who would publish your books for a price. The price depends on how badly and how fast you want your books to be published.

However, the Sunday Book Market of Daryaganj is very popular among the book lovers as the market has several stalls selling used books at throw away prices. There are shops selling books by weight. Though it looks odd to the uninitiated like me- you get books real cheap.

Tailpiece 1: Delhi ki Garmi

Delhi was sizzling at 40 plus degree when I had been there. A joke was doing rounds: the heat will continue to rise till it crosses the number of seats Congress has got.

Tail piece 2: Desh Badal Raha Hai

Look at this. Man will take care of Home, and woman will take care of Finance. The country is changing, bro.

Tailpiece 3: Circle Complete

Cabinet Allocations in a nutshell:

Party Chief gets Home,

Home Minister gets Defence,

Defence Minister gets Finance and,

Finance Minister goes Home

Circle complete.

(Courtesy: Social Media)

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The author, a journalist turned media academician lives in Central Odisha town of Dhenkanal. An anthology of his weekly column Window Seat, published in 2018 has been published as a book. Write to him to get a free e-copy. [email protected]

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