Bengal: An Afterthought

While reading Sagarika Ghose’ piece on Bengal in HT, her one idea hit me: “Bengal is still destroying the one resource it was famous for: the mind”

My stint with Bengal has taught me that the state at large treads the middle path. Its disgust at rusty governance is muffled even though it is among the first to sound dissent. The state takes light years to turn criticism against reforms into acceptance. In the din of bandhs and protest walks, no one has realized that the development clock has stopped ticking.

Wind the clock, reset its time and take note of the movement of small and long hands.

The people are selectively ‘progressive’ forcing pace to set up cultural edifice, even though other societal foundations suffer a quake.  It will take million of Spartans to boost sagging will of the people who are preoccupied with ritual obligations. The state suffers from hyperactivity- only in terms of festivities. Crores go into building make-shift structures to welcome Goddess Durga and the half-starved pregnant women in Nandigram languish in ugly corner of their derelict nests.  The prolonged festivities witness companies lightening their wallet for spending on ads. No one listens to cries of corporate social responsibility.

The arm-chair critics of govt policies will shrug at the idea of facing nagging humidity and don the role of public servant.  Fault finders outweigh problem solvers and individual comfort ignores collective convenience. The ones who wear the cloak of intellect are no experts at niceties of governance but their attempts (albeit on the surface) at putting things back on track have fallen on deaf ears.

Reasons are more than one. Lack of strong representation of intellectuals in state legislature is one of them. West Bengal is sadly losing the distinction of being a good listener. Debate turns into mudslinging, critical analyses camouflage into propaganda and statements from stalwarts come loaded with snide remarks. People are turning bitter.

The state has never been one of the most industrious ones but recently it has surrendered to ‘delicious sloth’. Much of this boorish mindset has its origin in pseudo-social wave lashing against the fragile castles of illiteracy and ignorance. The political workers act as opinion leaders and public opinion on imperative issues are formed on flimsy grounds. The imprudence spreads like an epidemic leaving the city with few ‘healthy’ souls.

The way Bengal thinks needs a serious rebuke. Bengal’s overly critical genes need to be wiped off and enterprising blood needs to be inoculated. Send the state to a reformatory. The state should be charged for cultural snobbery, unbridled retrospection and keeping future in dark.

The highly paid optimists in Bengal must be busy using their credentials to design a new ‘Under Construction’ template for the world to see.

Bengal has surely seen better days.

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