Three fixations of Hindu Bengalis (born in 1930s,1940s and 1950s) are worth mentioning:
- To nurture the illusion of socialism / communism.
- To idealize the illusion of pseudo secularism.
- To develop an infatuation for the Bollywood songs.
The generations mentioned above have faced significant political changes like the following: 1. The independence of India and the partition of the country. 2. Inclusion of secularism and socialism in the Preamble to the Constitution. 3. Capture of power by CPM in West Bengal (WB) in1977 and its continuation up to 2011. 4. Rule of Trinamul party since then.
As a consequence of the partition and with the dominance of Delhi in the power politics of India, they simultaneously and gradually saw erosion of their political power and economic decay. Flight of capital led to rampant unemployment and in turn to inferiority complex in the Bengalis. They became anti-establishment, resorted to agitational politics and pitched for socialism / communism. This was aided and abetted by the western educational system followed in Kolkata and the state. These institutes promoted Western tradition and culture at the cost of Bharatiya values and ethos. Hindu traditions and rituals were looked down upon.
The Congress and the Leftist found it expedient to pursue such educational policy and ensured that the history of Bharatbarsha is gradually demeaned and the history of foreigners, particularly, of the Mughals and the English extolled. Also, pseudo-secularism was promoted to marginalize the Hindu majority politically. The left-liberals, media, academia and intellectuals were given all sinecure positions, scholarships, foreign trips and plum postings and they started propagating and teaching the cause of pseudo secularism such that it was ingrained into the Bengali psyche. It was facilitated by the Congress and the leftists who then dominated Bengal politics, media and academics. WB thus became a fertile ground for idealizing and nurturing communism and pseudo secularism.
Over the past hundred years, there have been more than two dozen attempts globally to build a socialist society. It has been tried in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Albania, Poland, Vietnam, Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, North Korea, Hungary, China, East Germany, Cuba, Tanzania, Laos, South Yemen, Somalia, the Congo, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Angola, Nicaragua and Venezuela, among others—not counting the very short-lived ones. All of these attempts have ended in varying degrees of failure. Yet the obsessed never learn.
The latter part of CPM rule and the TMC rule saw a degree of fraternization between Muslims and others in WB for common political interests. This ultimately led to diverse electoral alliance and vote bank politics. True secularism is justice for all and appeasement for none. But, for the left liberal politicians, it actually means appeasement of minorities because it is necessary for vote bank politics.
The people in ancient India had freedom of religion. Ellora cave temples built next to each other between 5th and 10th centuries, for example, shows a coexistence of religions and a spirit of acceptance of different faiths. This approach to interfaith relations changed with the arrival of Islam. The political doctrines of Islam, as well as its religious views were at odds with doctrines of liberal Hinduism and other Indian religions. Construction of temples and monasteries were not allowed. Jizya taxes were imposed on Hindus and forced conversions not infrequent. They continue to be at odds with true secularism.
Democracy, even if with large aberrations, may be said to prevail in West Bengal. All these happenings may be construed therefore to be the outcome of popular choice. But one should learn looking at the economic and social impacts resulting from these happenings. “I watched the city of my childhood steadily go to ruin,” said political scientist Sumit Ganguly in 2011. “Unions rose, industry fled, law and order deteriorated. It has a significant effect on my life and the lives of my family.” Even now, the state’s economy is in doldrums with employment generation, virtually standstill. Corruption has become pandemic. Muslims have been radicalized. This and large demographic changes in favour of Muslims lead to apprehension of 2nd partition.
This is also the time when Hindi started to gain prominence over English and other regional languages. People were inclined to learn Hindi as the central govt. proactively promoted it. The 3 Language formula led to substitution of Bangla by Hindi as 1st or 2nd language. In the job market, preference for Hindi knowing started revealing. Today, every marketing call received on telephone is in Hindi. All this and the inferiority complex made Bengalis turn to Hindi. In the meantime, Bollywood films and music were becoming popular all over India and specially in WB. In the regional TV music channels, more than 50% are Bollywood songs. Even in Bangla serials, such songs are used more often than not. Bengalis are turning away from nurturing their own language which is gradually yielding place to Hindi and Urdu.
The writer is a long-standing commentator on contemporary issues.