Saturday, November 17, 2012

Rule by Extortion err.... Subscription

There is a tradition of collecting donation which is equivalent to "subscription" as it is usually equally shared between families or individuals to celebrate the Durga Puja (Festival of Goddess Durga) in West Bengal. However, it is not an uncommon sight to see several youngsters, standing with sticks to collect money forcefully from vehicles that ply on the road that is closer to them. There had been even fights, vehicles running over these extortionists resulting in deaths, and traffic jam that results from this show of muscle power. Things have not changed. Now, practically for every celebration you could be stopped. The other day, my motor cycle was stopped in a village asking for this "extortionist" money for the Kali Puja (festival of Kali, celebrated in Bengal on the same day as Deepawali). I paid 10 rupees couple of days ago for the Muslim festival of Muharram which is still ten days away, and got a bill for five rupees with hardly anything to indicate that this will be used for any social or religious purpose. (I can't understand the reasoning for inheriting a bad tradition from anyone.) I have seen children stopping vehicles to collect money for celebrating Goddess of Wisdom (Saraswati Puja), and have paid three times in the same village at a distance of 200 meters each. How can wisdom dawn on children who bunk school and collect money to make merry at the cost of others! How can West Bengal develop if our youth are found to be splurging in money that is not theirs?  

Are we heading for an anarchist society? Have matters of faith have been transferred into issues of merry-making? Has the concept of donation has been taken away and extortion has replaced it? With the kind of rods and sticks these people wield around, all that one can do it, wait for the next election and press the button against the existing leading political party, and keep silent about all issues, most of the times.

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