Thursday, September 29, 2005

"Women empowerment" or "Empowered by women"

Today began as an ordinary day of my life. But the only thing ordinary was the beginning. I woke up at quarter to eight as the first class was from 8:30am. But even as I stepped outside the room, Roshan (my wingmate) asked whether there is any class today.

All the sleep left in my eyes vanished by the prospect of this news. How's it possible? There isn't any declared holiday today. And it isn't either raining (let alone cats and dogs). Then why on earth will IIT take a day off. To this he told that CPI(M) cadres have gheraoed the main gate and are not allowing anyone inside. The people who had classes from 7:30am had returned without even crossing the gate. I dimly recollected that yesterday I had read an article about "Mother of all strikes" to hit India in the coming days. I didn't cared to see it was this near and that the IIT would be affected. I also remembered how some two years ago, the Trinmul cadres tried to do a similar thing but their attemts were immediately countered by the security of the IIT Kharagpur and it was a failure. Classes started as usual, though 10 minutes late. Nothing more. Period.

But this time the story is a bit different. I knew that CPI(M) is in power now, but still I didn't believed that such a thing can happen at IIT. Afterall, the IIT has its own security system. Then I noticed that even inside my hostel, I could hear the loudspeakers honking the CPI(M) tunes. After having the breakfast, I and Suman decided to go and check for ourselves whether is there any chance of the bandh lifting in near future. But even before we crossed the foyer, the returning people convinced us that there is no use going as there are hundreds of women staging a dharna at the main gate itself making it impossible to to through. Hearing this Suman chuckled. He started praising the homework the CPI(M) people have put into this strike. Based on past experience, they knew that they have to have innovative strategy to make the bandh successful. If they brought men for dharnas, they would be dealt strongly with the police. So they brought women for dharnas. The IIT police was unable to resolve this issue as it does not have the power to use force on women. They will have to wait till lady constables come from Midnapore district to set things right, and this would take time. It did, and the crowd was cleared only around 9:30am.

We had a class at 10:30am, but found that the classrooms haven't been opened yet. The same went for the afternoon class also as the department employees failed to turn up. Hence, it turned out to be a off-day, something that I hadn't seen in IIT in the last four years of my study.

Using the free time to my great advantage, I finished reading "Freakonomics" by Steven D. Lewitt. As the title suggest, it is about the freaky ideas of a rogue economist who explored the hidden side of everything (well, "some" things). The topics include "Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms?", "How Is the Ku Klux Klan Like a Group of Real-Estate Agents?", "Which is more dangerous: A gun or a swimming pool?", etc. I would rate the book as a must read for all who haven't read "The History of Salt". Not because this book deals with it, but because who have read it will be looking for a central theme, which this book does not have. But one question that this book leaves unanswered is that how can a begger afford a $50 headphone.

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