Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Shan sines again in Bengal
It took 32 years for the ghost of Siddhartha Shankar Roy to be buried, and for the self-destructive negativism underlying much of life in Bengal to be set aside. Bengal has rejoined the national mainstream. It has been part of a national wave, and played a significant part in enabling the formation of a stable federal govt committed to good governance, economic growth and social inclusion. Bengal had played a significant role in India's anti-colonial and freedom movement. Now, through its electoral behaviour, it has once again found its place under the Indian sun. The people of Bengal have to give flesh and bones to that promise and potential.
It is unlikely that any future govt will last for 30 years - or for that matter, whether "Bengal" as we know it today, will have any meaning in 30 years time, given the pace at which changes and transformations are taking place in the world. Any new dispensation in Bengal has only a short time within which it can carry out the work of repairing, rebuilding and renewing Bengal. It is not a question of pragmatism, or expediency or opportunism. Of erstwhile CPM-supported auto, bus-transport and union mafias, and real estate dons now doing business as usual with new rulers. It is a question of overturning and transforming the way life is lived in Bengal, of how people breathe, and what they are.
Bengal needs vision, inspiration and example; people need counselling and instruction and encouragement; and chastening and chiding and punishment and reward. In short, Bengal needs leadership. Bengalis are habitually averse to all these things. But the same Bengalis can do as much and more when they are inspired, and believe and trust. Netaji is long gone, and is not about to return. Even Prabhakaran, the mass murderer, who claimed Netaji's inspiration, is now dead. The people of Bengal have to find leadership within themselves, individually and collectively. Yes, Bengal needs a new Swaraj party.
With that, no one or nothing can stop Bengal from realising its place of destiny in this planet. A beautiful land, a peaceful and prosperous place, of gifted and quirky people, a different place, which is also a beacon for others.
Painting: The Sun Makers Free Your Mind, by Eric Singleton.