26th January 1950 was really a historic day for the history of India. It was a day when we resolved to be a sovereign, socialist and secular republic. We resolved to the unity of this nation and also pledged to maintain the principle of unity in diversity. The stalwarts and the architects of this nation laid some common guiding principles that would bind the social fabric of this country that has a heritage of over 5000 years and a human resource of over a billion. However, as the days passed there was the obvious contamination in the principles and there were molding of values going on across. Today, a time has come when we feel the visions of the architects of this nation have been obscured by the current political ambitions of some parochial people.
I am not pointing to the obvious soft target and that is Raj Thackeray. Enough has been written about him and enough has been said, however today the focus is not on him. He is the obvious choice of any regional-based debate, but today I want to tread on the line that is not more often taken or even perceived. I am talking about the parochial intentions of people, people in general in some states. I had this good opportunity to traverse across many states in India and I feel that apart from Mumbai more or less every place has got a regional bias, which is totally against our constitution. When I go to Bengal I discover a place called non-Bengal, which is a fictitious place mostly kept in isolation by the Bengalis. I see an ostentatious display of the Bengali culture in some of the occasions more to assert the Bengali mindset that actually to ameliorate the cultural fabric. I hear about the Bengalis bragging about their achievements as a state of Nobel laureates and Oscar winners to an extent of insulting or demeaning other states that are probably not so ornamented with awards. Pride is a good thing but the metamorphosis of pride to narcissism is something that is dangerous for progress.
I have seen some people in Bengal who are at present living in the glorious past and ignoring the challenges of the future. They are proud about the fact that Tagore brought them the Nobel in 1913 but oblivious to the challenge that the same Nobel prize has been stolen from the Shantiniketan and the thief is yet to be nabbed. I have seen egoistic assertions of the Bengali pride to some non-Bengalis to an extent of misdemeanor or misbehavior. Is this the reason why the Bengali crowd when they are outside Bengal is sometimes termed as a grossly egoistic crowd? Are we heading for a regional dislocation leading to national discord?
I have had the very good opportunity to taste every food in this country, however when I go to Kolkata I see a sense of egotism also involved in the food. There are people who would want to claim that there is no other food like the Bengali food, which I believe, is too tall a claim. It is really good to be proud of one’s own food, but discounting others to be worthy of even competing is something I would never approve of being a citizen of this country. Similar is the case with sports. According to some there is no better player of cricket than Saurav Ganguli, good, I am also a fan of the Rolls Royce of the off-side, but this following has not led me to a state that I would really ignore his bad form and would not allow a cricket match to take place in my city if he is not playing. I am of the opinion that the game should go on, despite the fact that one of my player is not playing. I have seen Bengalis coming up with arguments as to being the most intellectual of the lot in India, hearing proverbs that what Bengalis think today is thought by the world in the next 10 years. True, I believe in some aspects, but not entirely. The corollary is that if this was the case, why we have so laid-back development in the city of Kolkata. Why there is no material growth in the city? What makes actually a Bengali to move out of Bengal if that state were actually run by the most competent and intellectual lot?
I am a Bengali, I am proud about the Bengali culture and I am really honored to be a part of this crème-de-la-crème, but having said that I would not put any other region of this country in the trash-bin. I love the taste of hilsa and rahu, but I am equally turned on by the smell of undhiyu, butter-chicken, masala-dosa and poha. My advice to narcissist Bengalis is to actually explore the world in a more positive sense and appreciate their own culture in a more amicable and peaceful manner. Think about this.