Bengal to draw up vision plan

first_imgThe West Bengal Cabinet on Wednesday decided to draw up a ‘Vision 10 and Vision 20’ plan for better performance and development in various fields in the next 10 to 20 years, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.“We will plan for 10 years and 20 years because if there is no proper planning, then there will be situations like the recent collapse of bridges. The Finance Department with the help of the Statistics and Planning Department will work on this,” she added.last_img

Embargoed, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq exists in solitary confinement

first_imgIt is tempting to look at Iraq as a hindi movie script gone horribly over the top. Saddam Hussein is Amrish Puri.Dharmendra defeated but did not quite demolish him, so now Sunny Deol has sworn to finish the task – George Bush followed by George W. Bush.Behind such black humour,It is tempting to look at Iraq as a hindi movie script gone horribly over the top. Saddam Hussein is Amrish Puri.Dharmendra defeated but did not quite demolish him, so now Sunny Deol has sworn to finish the task – George Bush followed by George W. Bush.Behind such black humour and the equally facile plans of Pentagon war strategists, there lies a country of 25 million, a human drama encapsulating every possible emotion. Iraq’s society is more liberal and secular than any other in the Middle East; Iraq’s polity is built around terrorism-the terrorising of a people by their self-proclaimed emperor.Iraq used to be the progressive face of Arab Islam, the stabilising, moderating influence in a region of religious extremes. The energy of its educated, white-collar middle class was every neighbour’s envy. Today, only a shell survives.An entire value system has collapsed. Iraq was once throbbing; now it is just tired, very tired. Humiliation in the Gulf War, 1991, has been compounded by a decade of economic sanctions. It has taken the luxury of consumerism out of the average Iraqi’s life; indeed, it has consumed the life out of the average Iraqi.Iraqis fear what American bombs may do to their children but the zeal with which they rallied around their patriarch through the war with Iran in the 1980s and then in 1991 has gone. So has the pride and swagger of the legatees of Mesopotamia, of Sumer, of Babylon. All that they are left with is nostalgia; and hope.advertisementI DICTATE, WE DO, THEY DRIVEA couple celebrate their wedding at Baghdad’s state-run Ishtar Hotel – it was once the Sheraton – amid the ubiquitous presence of the “Wise Man of the Arabs”; Sardar Cars, the city’s biggest auto dealer, still sells 50-60 cars a month, from Mercs old and new to pick-up trucks. Only a buccaneer elite, enriched by the parallel economy the embargo has spawned, can afford to buy.COLD COMFORT, HOT MOVESOil is aplenty, water is scarce. An Iraqi improvises his bathtub into a roadside “shop” to sell fellow Baghdadis what they covet most-safe drinking water. The concerns at a city party are altogether different and a throwback to the time when the Iraqi capital’s nightlife still roared.GETTING ALONG GAMELYIf a cursory survey of poster shops be proof, David Beckham is Iraq’s favourite foreigner. His sport itself is a craze and this repaired-football salesman appears confident of good business. His compatriots in a Baghdad cafe wait for their country’s luck to change.WORSHIP, HERO WORSHIPSaddam’s regime is dominated by Sunnis but over 60 per cent of Iraqis are Shias. In Karbala, Shias from across the world congregate at the mausoleums of Imam Hussain.Abbas, part of the Prophet’s family. Meanwhile in Baghdad, a motorist dresses up his Volkswagen Beetle for his leader.last_img read more