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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 17, April 11, 2009

Partition and Present-day Ills in West Bengal

Sunday 12 April 2009, by Arjun Das


[(Book Review)]

West Bengal in Doldrums by Dr Sailen Debnath; N.L. Publishers, Siliguri, West Bengal; 2009.

A powerful and reflective analysis of the socio-economic, political, administrative and cultural profiles of West Bengal is found in the book as the author aptly surveys the history of the State from the pre-independence period to the present times. The book brings out the partition trauma that is still haunting the human development of the State by focusing on the refugee aspect in the wake of the territorial division that subjected millions of Bengalis to homelessness and statelessness and thousands to death-traps of hunger, disease and such other human rights violations. Case studies of such incidents lend poignancy to the narrative.

The author tries to highlight the fact that imbalanced growth and development in the State has created social tension resulting in rising dissatisfaction and grievances among different ethnic groups of people. He spares none to criticise the social problems plaguing the State manifest in growing human trafficking, prostitution, social displacement, homelessness of millions, suppression of the voice of the exploited, nepotism, official corruption, bribery, exploitation of the peasants, patronisation of capitalists and capitalist culture, degradation of the health care sector, decline in education, the problem of child labour, crisis of employment, sharp rise in brothels, problems in the hills, the problem of Rajbhanshis in the North Bengal region and so on.

The book is a timely call to the national as well as State leaders, social scientists, educationists, grassroot workers, artists and intellectuals to ponder seriously over how to effect the allround development of West Bengal by eradicating the social scourages still afflicting large segments of people. Herein lies the importance of the book for which the author merits due credit.

The reviewer is a Research Scholar in the Department of History, University of North Bental, Siliguri, West Bengal.

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