Monday, 1 July 2013

Gujrat and Bengal By Sujay Chatterjee

The rise of Gujarat in recent years and Modi's leadership in national
politics left many Bengalees, both within and outside West Bengal,
astonished. The Gujarat had achieved what West Bengal could not. But
the Gujaratis were not so intelligent like the Bengalees, nor they had
any Renaissance, nor they gave birth to kings like Maharaja
Pratapaditya or Raja Sitaram, nor they excelled in the field of
education, art, culture etc. So what made the Gujaratis great in
comparison to Bengalees? There was one field where Gujarat could
defeat Bengal and it was in business. Yesterday I read an article in
Ananda Bazar about the lack of business-mentality Bengalees. The
Bengalees always hated the business and the community that survived on
business ( like Marwaris ) were essentially bad in the eyes of an
educated Bengali. This mentality made the Bengalees dependent on
others. However, the history shows that dependent people end in
failure and lack self confidence. The greatness of Gujarat was in its
history and as Bankim Chandra said-without strong history, there can
be no identity. In the past, Gujarat showed the way when the whole
country was searching for it. The rise and fall of krishna's Dwarka
was its first important chapter. In Modern Times, it gave birth to
Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Ballavbhai Patel and Gandhi. Modi is its
post-modern gift to Bharat. Interestingly, whenever Gujarat had risen,
Bengal also rose and opposed it and sometimes, hated it. This hatred
did more harm to the people of Bengal. We know the story of Paundraka
Basudeva who not only imitated krishna but made alliance against him
with Magadha. We know the revolutionaries of 20th Century Bengal who
hated Gandhian politics and Brahmo leaders of 19th Century Bengal who
opposed Dayananda Saraswati and his Arya Samaj. In the end, it was
Arya Samaj and the Gandhi-Patel that became victorious. Today Modi's
main opponents are the Bengali communists and seculars. History will
tell who will be the winner. But the story didn't end here. Both
Gujarat and Bengal were under the Muslim rule, but how Gujarat rose
from the ashes? Was it merely the Maratha occupation? Or the self
confidence and pragmatism of the Gujaratis? Let the Bengalees answer
it. Meanwhile we will see whether Bengal can learn anything from
Gujarat or whether it ends in another failure like the story of
Paundraka Vasudeva.

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