Retirement home for prostitutes: A noble move, but can Mamata succeed?

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and his party colleague Sashi Panja, a former gynaecologist, have taken a good initiative of setting up a home for retired prostitutes in Kolkata called Muktir Alo (Light of Freedom). The home is supposed to initially benefit 100 sex workers aged 50 and above and their names would be picked by lottery.

But this path-breaking welfare move has faced an objection, not from the opposition party but from the local residents of the area in southern Kolkata where the home is about to come up. According to the middle-class residents of the area, the retirement home could leave an adverse effect on the local ambience.

Such protest isn't new in the Indian society. The hypocrite in man has always treated prostitution as a necessary evil for the society and the latter, as a cumulative act of that hypocrisy, has refused to accept the 'marginal section' so that it can continue to dominate its individuals by airing strong words on a hollow morality.

The local residents have objected to the idea. Can Mamata overcome them?

Now, the question is: Can Mamata Banerjee, a leader of the masses and who has always spoken in favour of the common man's interest, can withstand this resistance? It is difficult for a democratically elected government to go against the common will, unlike an authoritarian regime which can author social regulations more easily. But does that mean that a government ignore the interest of a cornered and helpless section of the society, which is also a part of its electorate. Banerjee has to take up this challenge from this point of view.

Evolution has always been the central theme of human history, whether it is in the thought or nature. And a democracy can always act as a facilitator of this evolution through a peaceful way. The Indian state is democratic but its society is largely not. And the democratic leadership needs to ensure that there is a peaceful meeting point between the two. Banerjee has a tough task in hand. We wish her all the best.

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