Carrying forward the state government’s efforts to bring the city’s transgender population into the mainstream, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has planned to rope in representatives from this community as judges to select the best pujas in town.
According to government estimates, there are at least 30,000 transgenders in Bengal. “There will be two bodies of judges for two tiers of screening — primary and final — and transgenders will be members of both,” said Debasis Kumar, member, mayor-in-council (parks and gardens), who is in charge of the awards panel. The KMC has been felicitating Durga Puja organisers with Kolkata Shree award since 2012 and this is the first time that transgenders have been inducted as judges of pujas.
“While people like Anindya Dutta and Ranjita Sinha would represent the transgender community in the primary panel of judges, Manabi Bandopadhyay, the country’s first third gender principal of a government college, would be our celebrity judge,” said Kumar.
If the city police bosses okay a proposal sent by women and child development minister Sashi Panja to the police commissioner, Kolkatans will see transgenders in another role this Pujas: that of civic cops managing the traffic. “I have sent a proposal to police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayashta requesting him to induct transgender citizens into the civic volunteer force. He has assured me that the proposal would be discussed and considered,” said Panja.
In fact, both the initiatives have been taken by Panja, who heads the transgender development board. It was Panja who had sent the proposal to mayor Sovan Chatterjee to rope in people of the transgender community in the judges’ panel of the Kolkata Shree award. The mayor grabbed the offer.