The above is my picture carrying a sling bag made of cloth, on my shoulder. Though it does not look smart, I usually use this bag to carry a book / newspaper, for small purchases of vegetables that I make on the go etc etc. Its main merit is that all the weight it exerts on your shoulder, is of content in the bag, nothing much of the bare bag, as it is made of cloth only.
It’s not this merit of the bag that prompts me to write the present article, rather something else. Whenever I board the train or bus or walk on the road with it, in Mumbai, I always find people looking at me quite curiously from afar. The looks I am speaking of, is not a normal one, rather a very special and significant one, that is, they brand me as a trade unionist from Kolkata—of those militant trade unionism of seventies, eighties and nineties. This was the period of violent trade unionism, the like of which [ except Dutta samanta’s] was not seen in India before. This brought Kolkata a bad reputation, and in some circle butt of jokes .
Initially, the trade union movement served well, people at the bottom layer who were deprived for ages were made conscious of their rights, they were for the first time told that they also have share in the wealth of the country, they were not less than others.
This new consciousness made them excited, and involved them actively, banished their mental bondage. This was a great idea, but should have been backed by proper knowledge that unless the industry survived, they won’t—that would stop the movement from going too far….. The leadership of working class wielded enormous power in their new found position, and used the power for their selfish end. Workers exerted their rights only, did no duties. Workers went berserk in the work place. All around there were violence , indiscipline and anarchy. Industry was scared, and ran away from Bengal to north, south and west of India. [Apart from ‘ freight equalisation’ of Central Govt,] This was the real nemesis of Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s “ What Bengal thinks today whole India thinks tomorrow”.
I think my neta-bag stokes the memory of those days in the mind of my onlookers. The worker leaders would always carry this bag on their shoulder all over the place and they would wear on an unkempt look, which together bore an ‘intellectual look’ that sold well to their fellow workers. These leaders were no mean people, they wielded enormous power in society of course, in Governmental level to a large extent. Their access were everywhere—land, air and water; their power were ultimate for a man on the street.
All of them would carry this bag that I use as in the picture. Incidentally, my look at this age of 65, although un-intentionally, look almost the same, with my short hairs turned grey standing straight on my scalp refusing to lie down, also as a matter of habit I cannot care much for my dress.
This is the story of my Neta-bag, and analysis why I draw attraction from around in Mumbai. I have decided though the bag carries an unwanted attention from people all around in Mumbai, I shall continue to use it in future also. It is convenient, you may also use it. With the progressive use, it will be a style statement, and neta-bag may soon go into the Oxford dictionary in near future. Many great things in use had a humble or negative beginning.