Advocate anoop Bose

The author is an internationally reputed senior lawyer practising in the Supreme Court of India and various High Courts and Tribunals in India. He has been closely associated with some of the topmost Indian corporates like Tata Sons Ltd., Reliance Industries Ltd., ITC Ltd. and Hindustan Unilever Ltd. as a lawyer and advisor. He addressed a select gathering of MPs and other eminent persons in the House of Lords in February,2009 and was awarded the prestigious “Ambassador of Peace Award”. In April,2009, he was also invited to the House of Commons. He was also invited by Chatham House and by the Universal Peace Federation in London several times. He is an avid debater, public speaker, writer, broadcaster, telecaster, artist, painter, sculptor, music critic and filmmaker. He is also an indefatigable lover of western classical music and has one of the largest private collections of western classical music in India.
On 11th June, 2020, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, declared at the Plenary Session of the Indian Chamber of Commerce, “what Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow”! He reverberated the more than the century old oft quoted tribute of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, the political Guru and mentor of Mahatma Gandhi. At the invitation of Gokhale, Gandhi came to Kolkata on 23rd December, 1901. He scrupulously attended the seventeenth annual session of the Indian National Congress spread over three days from 26th to 28th December, 1901 and delivered his maiden political speech on the second day which earned him lavish accolades in the local press. Gandhi stayed on in Kolkata with Gokhale and came in contact with the foremost Bengali personages like Prafulla Chandra Roy, Rabindranath Tagore, Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee and Sister Nivedita. He travelled on foot to Belur Math to meet Swami Vivekananda but the trip proved abortive as Vivekananda was convalescing in his Kolkata residence. Significantly, it was in Kolkata that Gandhi ventilated his twin philosophy of “Speak the truth and speak truth under all circumstances” and “Return love for hate”. Gandhi came to Kolkata for the last time on 9th August, 1947 with the intent to travel to Noakhali, but was perforce constrained to stay back in the riot torn city in a nondescript building called “Hyderi Manzil”. He witnessed India’s hard earned birth of freedom on 15th August,1947 and wrote to his old English friend Agatha Mary Harrison, “My way of celebrating great events, such as today’s, is to thank God for it and, therefore, to pray.” It can be stated assertively that Gandhi’s political journey in India not only began in Kolkata but the “City of Joy” gave him his very first bitter taste of “Purna Swaraj”.

In the 19th century, after the consolidation of the British imperial power in Bengal, European culture, with its glorification of science and technology and its avowed values of individual freedom, liberal thinking, social equity and justice, posed a grave threat to Bengali culture. Swami Vivekananda, the Father of Indian Nationalism, rose to the occasion and valiantly met the challenge by reviving the ancient spirit of Vedanta. In 1897, Vivekananda’s clarion call to his monastic brothers and disciples was, “Arise! Awake! Wake up yourselves, and awaken others. Achieve the consummation of human life before you pass off. Arise, Awake, and stop not till the Goal is reached.” He attributed Bengal’s downfall to the neglect of the deprived masses and preached, “I consider that the great national sin is the neglect of the masses. No amount of policies would be of any avail until the masses in Bengal are once more well educated, well fed, and well cared for.” Vivekananda also endeavoured to bring about social transformation through education and in that context observed, “If the poor cannot come to education, education must reach them at the plough, in the factory, everywhere.” As the world is coming to grips with the debilitating COVID-19 pandemic, it may be wise to remember that Vivekananda wrote a unique advisory called “The Plague Manifesto” about 122 years ago when plague broke out in Kolkata and other parts of India. In the Manifesto, his message to the people was simple and forthright, “Come, let us give up this false fear and, having faith in the infinite compassion of God, gird our loins and enter the field of action. Let us live pure and clean lives. Disease, fear of an epidemic, etc., will vanish into thin air by His grace.”

West Bengal is India’s fourth most populous state with a population that has reached a staggering figure of 100 million in this very year. After India’s independence, the state made phenomenal all round progress under the charismatic Chief Ministership of Bharat Ratna Dr.Bidhan Chandra Roy, popularly known as “Banglar Roopokar”, who once aptly proclaimed, “If we exert ourselves with determination, no obstacle, however formidable, can stop our progress.” But it has over the past few decades lamentably degenerated into ‘Waste Bengal’ and is today one of the poorest states reflecting immense deprivation levels across social indicators such as health and education. But not all hope is lost! Here, I am irresistibly emboldened to strike a note of optimism by drawing upon the words of the first Bengali President Bharat Ratna Pranab Mukherjee uttered on 7th March,2010, “I am confident that although the state has temporarily fallen behind somewhat, it will regain its lost glory and earn its due respect.”
Share on social media