Bengalis are commonly known as Bhadraloks (Gentleman) in India. Now-a-days, it pains the Gentlemen to see the desperate lows that the Eastern Indian Province of West Bengal has touched. Almost every Bengali, who gets an opportunity to leave their birthplace (mainly in search of a better Life), does so, gleefully. And, most of the cases, they never return to West Bengal!
Once upon a time, West Bengal used to be the seat of Knowledge, a Hub of Industrial Activities, the Capital of Culture, and a prolific Producer of Sportspersons in India… in short, it was the most vibrant place there ever was in the entire South Asian nation! Unfortunately, it all has changed…
Kolkata, West Bengal, April 1970
The province has been on a decline ever since the death of its second Chief Minister Dr Bidhan Roy in 1963. Dr Roy had reinforced the foundations of the province by setting up the Durgapur & Alloy Steel Plant, Chittaranjan Locomotives, Kalyani (India’s first satellite township), Digha Beach Resort, etc. He had also expanded the Engineering Industry by building Engineering, Technological, Medical, Management and other related Institutes. Calcutta University and Jadavpur University used to be the Prime Educational Institutions in India those days. West Bengal also had the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), the Operations Research School, the Bengal Engineering College, besides of course the prestigious Presidency College, St Xavier’s College, Scottish Church College and many other venerable institutes!
Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy
Noted Indian business houses, like Birla, JK, Thapar and Tata, had set up their Headquarters in West Bengal. The grand Tata Centre was built for that purpose in the provincial capital of Kolkata, although most of their investment was in Jamshedpur in the neighbouring Province of present Jharkhand. A bulk of the foreign companies, too, had their (India) Headquarters in Kolkata. The city had the highest number of International flights, while Mumbai (then Bombay) used to serve flight services mainly to Aden, Muscat and East Africa…
And then Ashok Kumar Night occurred in February 1968, when women were reportedly dragged out, and their naked, dead and raped bodies were found in and around the lake area in South Kolkata over the next two days. The (then ruling) Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M) leaders addressed it as “the rise of the Proletariat against the Bourgeoisie”, justifying the crime!
1984 Vinod Mehta Murder Case
Soon after the incident, Aditya Birla was dragged out of his car between GPO and RBI (near the Writers’ Building or the Secretariat Building of the Provincial Government of West Bengal) in Kolkata, thrashed and stripped down to his undergarments, and also made to walk like that to his office at 15, India Exchange Place. With a crowd roaring in laughter and jeering, he went home and took a flight to Mumbai, never to return. Birla immediately shifted his office out of West Bengal. So did JK and so did Thapar within a month. So did most entrepreneurs, so did most MNCs and so did professionals, educationists, intellectuals and artists. That is what the Communists wanted. Those, who had nowhere to go, were threatened by goons and movements, like ‘Amra Bangali’, to remain silent. The Communists used to make people ‘Proletariat’ for their own sake, as the overall development of the province would have a negative impact on their vote banks!
Gradually, it became the ‘Political Culture’ of West Bengal. Thereafter, Political Parties – irrespective of their hue – kept following the same culture and unfortunately still keep doing so… because the best manner to remain in power is not to allow ‘empowerment’. If the people get education and knowledge, then how would the parties rule the province? The common people or Bhadraloks have been, strangely, watching silently for 55 years now and, perhaps, will do so for another 55 years…
Current Chief Minister Mamta Bannerjee
Those, who disagree to live in this situation, migrated out to other parts of India, or the world… one would find so many teachers, scientists, researchers, artists from West Bengal living in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Scandinavian countries, etc., but NONE worth the name in West Bengal. The ruling Trinamool Congress Party is the rotten form of the CPI(M) as it nurtures the same political culture. It seems that the people of West Bengal will have to reject all the political outfits and trigger a ‘Cultural Revolution’ in order to bring the ‘Good Old Days’ back. Else, more Bhadraloks will leave the province, sooner or later…
You may also like to read: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
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It was Kishore kumar night at Ravindra sarovar stadium that west bengal lost its recognition of bhadralok. I have done my schooling and college in calcutta and feel so close to the city and its culture which has now become Kaler chor