Derek O’Brien (for Info only, not official)

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Derek O’Brien

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    ...In recent times, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have done so.In keeping with the competitive nature of our federal polity, each state is attempting to put forward its competitive advantage.The theme for this year’s summit is 'Come to Bengal, Ride the Growth'.This is not an empty slogan, but reflects the new energy that the Mamata Banerjee government has brought in over the past five years.Lest you feel that it is just me wearing my party spokesperson’s hat, I will attempt to convince you with facts and figures.For a start, the environment is less hostile and more welcoming.In the 34 years of the CPI(M) rule, West Bengal acquired the reputation of a government that was forever quarrelling—with the Centre, with business, with everybody. ...

    The Week on Jan. 17, 2016, midnight

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    ...Ambedkar, the chair of the drafting committee of the Constituent Assembly, which finished its work on November 26, 1949.Ambedkar has been called a father-figure—perhaps the father-figure—of our Constitution.He was one of the first four signatories of the document that became our Constitution.The Constitution Ambedkar and his colleagues gave us was the longest written such document in the world.India was only the 25th country to get a constitution, with 150 countries adopting constitutions in subsequent decades.The Constituent Assembly took almost three years to draft the Constitution.In its final form, the Draft Constitution contained 395 Articles and eight Schedules.The number of amendments tabled was 7,635.Of them, the number of amendments actually moved in the Assembly was 2,473.The framers of our Constitution believed India could aspire to be the best. ...

    The Week on Dec. 20, 2015, midnight

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    ...Shiraz’s biryani, chaap and kebabs are delectable, and are regulars at the O’Brien household.On a visit there once, I remember a prominent sign on the wall.It struck me as odd initially.“No beef,” it said.That’s all, just two words.It was a strange sign, given the owners and cooks at Shiraz were Muslims and likely beef eaters.Beef, including meat from cows above a certain age, is legal in Kolkata.Many restaurants, some of them run by Hindus, serve it.So, why was the management of Shiraz so careful to put up that sign?It was not a response to a political campaign or a government rule.It was simply an acknowledgement that many of the customers (the majority, I would say) of Shiraz were Hindus who ate mutton and chicken, but not beef.Shiraz was reassuring them.This was consideration for the broader community and a nod to the market. ...

    The Week on Nov. 1, 2015, midnight

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    ...Its tennis courts (where I met my wife for the first time), its quizzes, every item on its menu—I have done it all.Being elected club president and running the club, helping revamp it actually, which is what the uncles and aunties wanted us (then) younger folk to do, was both an ordeal and extremely rewarding.I think we succeeded, but not without battles.Among my biggest achievements as president was to convene an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) that gave women members the right to vote.This also made them eligible to contest elections and become officeholders.It was a major step.Most of Kolkata’s 15 to 20 big social clubs are conservative institutions.Be it the Calcutta Club, The Bengal Club or the Tollygunge Club, women are given second-class treatment, generally as spouses and add-ons.At the Tollygunge Club, the spouse of a member is not a full-fledged member but is officially a “permanent guest”. ...

    The Week on Sept. 20, 2015, midnight