Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Sleeping Race

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee


Talking about race doesn't necessarily mean I am a racist and when I am self critical about of my own race I shouldn't sound racist at all. Well the title of the blog might have given you a hint on whom am I talking about. Yes, I am talking about the 'Bengalis' or the 'Bongs' as the Y generation would like to call it. Its a race which has been on a long and uncertain sleep.

An analogy can been drawn between Bengalis and the West Indian cricket team. Like the Windies team of the 80s when we were at our peak nobody in India could take us on, but when we started falling apart we did not know how to come up again. There have always been the genius of Brian Laras and Courtney Walshs but somehow they haven't been enough to push the brand Bengal to the glorious position it once held.

Famous freedom fighter Gopal Krishna Gokhle had once said “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.” As someone rightly put it in today's context reversing the order of the sentence would make more sense. To be honest the state and the city of Calcutta in particular has been let down but its self inflicted catastrophe, sense of denial and obsession with its glorious past.

Politics and a single party rule has been often been blamed for the state's misfortune. This thought has made sure that we kept on ignoring all other factors. Had the communists not taken over would Bengal been among the top five states in India? I say NO, the reason is Bengalis have been very good when it has come to art, literature, science and every possible profession other than BUSINESS. The gap between Bengal and other states actually widened in the post liberalisation era when the 'B' word became the way to move forward.

The complete ignorance of the Bengalis who have left the state has also hurt Bengal. From Huston to Manchester and from Bangalore to Delhi these people have always taken pride in having the hilsas and rosogollas but never cared to look back at Bengal. True, opportunities are less and obstacles many but ignoring the present state of affairs and blowing the trumpet of the glorious past no solution to Bengal's woes. We should be proud of Bose, Tagore and Satyajit Ray but we need more of this people right now.

Calcutta is often referred as the 'sinking ship' and which literally means the end of the story for many. This attitude of hopelessness has cost the city and the state. Let us rather refer to it as a ship in rough waters which can be steered back to a calmer dock. For that to happen a race has to wake up, it has to be self critical of its acts, it has to come out of the state of denial and most importantly separate emotions from politics. It may sound cliché but honestly change comes when there is hope and belief and we got to hope and we got to believe.

3 comments:

Subharaj Saha February 11, 2009 at 12:19 PM  

Once upon a time..Shonar Bangla was indeed a land of gold and by that I not only mean the material wealth, I also mean the land of knowledge and enlightenment - the real wealth. Politics and petty interest combined with the complete lack of interest of the people to hold this downslide has brought Bengal to where it is today. Bengalis all around the world still command respect when they say they are from Calcutta ( And yes I will use this name because calling it Kolkata is not the only change that is needed). If those people look at Bengal now..they will be very disappointed because the Shonar Kolkata is not the one they had heard about. People please rise and bring back the days of glory instead of siting in sheer apathy and criticizing all that is taking place around us coz we are very good at that....AS Tagore said "In that haven of freedom..let my country awaken" The time is now!!

ankita banerji February 11, 2009 at 2:50 PM  

I'm agree with u to some extent,if not totaly. The prblm here in kolkata is evry other person consider themslvs as a diplomat or politician. I remember one Bangladeshi author has once said that, we the Bengalis r overtly emotional; which is the prime reason of our under development...& I believe its true!

Avishek Ganguly March 9, 2011 at 2:00 PM  

i agree to you absolutely. People get the government they deserve and its the same for Bengalis too. Had we Bongs been a little more hard working, professional and far sighted, the state would not have suffered this way.

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