Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
                    Volume 11 |Issue 09| March 02, 2012 |


 Cover Story
 Special Feature
 Current Affairs
 Food for Thought
 Star Diary
 Book Review

   SWM Home


Because Didi Says So

Sushmita S Preetha

Bangladesh, it appears, is floating on water. And not just any water, mind you, but the holy water of the Ganges, flowing free and fine, uncontaminated by insincere promises, from the Big Dada, India. We can all stop fretting now, surely, for the holy water will soothe, bathe and drown the sorrows of our farmers, fishermen and local communities in the north and north-east.

Lo and behold the large gaping holes in the Farraka barrage, man-made ones, as Mamataheen Didi so sensibly points out. She is rightly outraged: how can the populous fearless leader just sit back and relax when a 'majority' of water from the Farakka barrage is being pilfered from opar by epar? “There has been mischief afoot and criminal conspiracy cannot be ruled out,” cries the indignant Didi.

In an incensed letter to the Singh-is-King, Didi sulks and whimpers: "It seems there was a deliberate and highly irresponsible move to keep the entire matter a secret... This looks like a man-made disaster planned on the one hand with finesse and aplomb to plunge West Bengal into a crisis and on the other hand to provide 'water' bonanza to Bangladesh.”

Didi might be from the mighty opar, but her comments seem oddly reminiscent of the conspiracy theories and wildly inappropriate remarks postulated by our own politicians. Notice the clever shifting of blame, the outrageous allegations, and the clear disregard for the real issues at hand. It just goes to show how we're not all too different, after all.


According to Didi, 82,801 cusecs of water have sneaked into Bangladesh, when the country is only supposed to receive 35,000 cusecs of water. Meanwhile, as a result of the man-made holes and excess drainage, the water level of Bhagirahat in India has gone down from 40,000 cusecs to 20,000, causing her people – the ones who helped her oust the Commies – incredible suffering.

But who, one wonders, is responsible for this 'criminal conspiracy,' this 'man-made disaster planned with finesse'? Was it the incorrigible Black Hatters? Maybe they found a way to hack into the infallible walls of the Farakka barrage because Big Dada doesn't have the decency to apologise for its atrocious and inhumane torture of Bangladeshis at the border. Or was it Jamaat? Perhaps they hope that the holy Ganges water will rinse their sins conducted during the 1971, purify them of their war crimes and enable them to win our vote in the next election. Maybe it was Sheikh Hasina herself, who, weary of her electoral promises to create a better Indo-Bangla relation, wanted a barrage of water to drift her nouka away from criticisms of her failures.

Or does Didi think it was Singh and the Big Bad Central Government that are out to get her for embarrassing them in public? No, she knows better. She knows that she can throw moody tantrums, refuse His Highness's implorations, cancel planned diplomatic trips and make ludicrous allegations at the expense of the central government. Why? Because Singh needs the backing of the vital 19 seats that belong to Didi's Trinomool Congress to form a government in the next elections.

So, for now, Didi can fume all she wants, whenever she wants. She can pull out of the much-awaited negotiation at the last moment, putting the crucial matter of Teesta river-sharing on hold for an indefinite period. She can use absurd commentaries on Farakka to divert attention from Teesta. She can express smug reservations over the protocol to the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement, signed during the Dhaka meet, regarding the exchange of enclaves and demand a review.

Currently, India possesses 111 enclaves inside Bangladeshi territory while Bangladesh has 51 enclaves within Indian territory. The agreement on the exchange of enclaves states that people residing in the enclaves would have the option to choose either India or Bangladeshi nationalities as per their wish. But perhaps that's too much freedom in the people's hands for Didi's liking. Perhaps Didi, too, agrees with the BJP's stance that there should be an exchange of population irrespective of the wishes of the people residing in the enclaves. After all, it wouldn't be the first time that her opinions coincided with that of the BJP.

But let's not vilify dear Didi any more than we need to. She may be the most glamorous contemporary khalnayak in the epic Indo-Bangla drama, but there is more to India's hegemonic power-play than Mamata's mood swings. Just consider the recent incidents of the BSF torture and the construction of the Tipaimukh badh. The Indian government has refused to consider the plight of the ordinary people of Bangladesh and the criticisms of its own civil society in its quest to maintain 'national security' and promote 'economic development'. But that's to be expected. After all, in this neoliberal world order, with great power comes great tyranny.

But Big Dada has epar's best interests in mind, surely. Just as a big brother would be stern on the outside and lenient and caring on the inside, India builds dam and barrages and high walls all around its little weak neighbour Bangladesh to show its might to the world.

Meanwhile, Didi can find some respite in the fact that the only excess of water in the north and north-west of Bangladesh are the tears of the millions of farmers, fishermen and boatmen living in the water scarce regions. For years, that has been the only water these people, who are not her potential voters, have been living on. In the absence of any serious effort on Didi's part to resolve the water-sharing problems between the nations, we might just have to challenge her to a cricket match and solve it the Lagaan way.

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2012