It was the best of times
Sidestepping political and ideological differences, American and Indian diplomats as well as Left bigwigs are preparing the ground for what will be a pathbreaking first official visit by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the Marxist Chief Minister of West Bengal, to the US sometime next year.
In fact, Industry Minister Sen had last December made a presentation to major US oil companies at a top hotel in the Capital on the setting up of a chemical hub in the state. Bhattacharjee was also present at the meeting.
On the IT sector front, Minister Debesh Das wants Bengal to provide 10 to 15 per cent of the country’s total IT revenue — it now stands at around 3 per cent. “We are late starters in IT, but we have the advantage of infrastructure in terms of power, housing and connectivity,” Das said. [In clear signal to investors, Buddha, team plan US trips]
It was the worst of times
The don and the goon are sublimating God, in His own country. Police say the gangs could run into “a few thousands”, with capital Thiruvananthapuram alone home to some 700 gangs. In the three years to 2004, when the menace began to peak, there were more than 39,000 cases of goonda attacks. Police are still processing figures for the last two years.
No longer is the goonda a semiliterate blunt instrument working for the neighbourhood assault or extortion outfit. Kerala has equally virulent political goons, corralled in legitimate jobs and put to use when required. Migrant labourers, farm hands, even college students, including those in professional courses, are known to moonlight for work that needs only threats. Then there are the so-called tie-wearing goondas, who work for, banks, loan sharks, mobile service providers.
The prostitution racket, including organized girl running to service the Gulf markets, is another money spinner; after the land and real estate operations. Though state intelligence estimates peg the sex and land mafia’s turnover at about Rs 15,000 crore, police sources say this could really be “many times more.”[Goon trouble in God’s own country]
The goonda menace did not start instantly after the Communists took power in the state, but trouble has been brewing for sometime. While they were in the opposition, the Communists were harping on this point. They organized marches to various police stations to protest against the break down of law and order in the state and blamed the Congress Govt. for turning a blind eye. The Congress Govt. introduced the Kerala Felonious Activities (Prevention) Bill – 2005,’ would empower the police to keep suspected anti-social elements under preventive detention up to six months, but the Communists dropped it as it had some undemocratic provisions. How much ever the public suffers, the Govt. has to make sure that a poor goonda does not suffer from some undemocratic treatment.
If such measures do not make Kerala an investment paradise, then I don’t know what will.