Harry Bose, MSc(Eng), CEng, MIEE Chartered Engineer. He lives in London. Finished schooling here, thereafter studied Electronic Eng. at Kings College London (Univ. of London).
Worked in the industrial electronics sector for 20 years, followed by 15 years as a University Senior Lecturer in Electronic Eng., teaching Digital Design & Programming Methodology.
It is true Bengal did produce intellectuals, visionaries and thinkers in the first half of the 20th century, but the last 50 years of that century was disappointing and effectively ruinous to the state’s majority population.
The rot had set in during the Congress rule for 30 years after independence. On hindsight, it now appears almost benign in comparison to what followed over the next 34 years. An alien Communist ideology, totally at odds with traditional Bengali thought, brought havoc on multiple fronts for the citizens. Finally, the last 10 years of TMC rule (2011-2021) has devastated the state, heaping further incongruent depredation, colossal appeasement and mismanagement on a scale not seen over the preceding 64 years. In a perverse way, these 10 years appear to be the ‘icing on the cake’ for the previous 34 years.
The horrendous societal changes the state’s citizens have had to suffer, together with the continuing threat to the social fabric and demographic set-up posed by the Rohingyas and illegal Bangladeshi entrants (encouraged by the present state administration) are known to all.
What then is the future? Will West Bengal ever regain the rich tapestry of the multi-faceted and artistic traditions it was always known for?
That is a tough ask. More than six decades of devastation on multiple fronts cannot be made to vanish within a short space of time. The decimation of industries which once adorned the state cannot be resurrected overnight. It would be a long haul, on the road remedying the damage which had already been inflicted; the Bengali ‘bhadralok’ fully understands the task which awaits his society.
That the arrest and reversal of the haemorrhaging of Bengali society is needed is not in dispute. The road to recovery would be arduous as well as torturously long-winded. The way forward necessarily means confronting the political structures put in place over the past four decades.
This can begin once a nationalist administration is in place in West Bengal. The state elections next month give a ray of hope to the vast majority, namely the Hindu Bengalis. Despite the tumultuously disruptive last four decades, if they decide to maintain the political status quo, then I am afraid this will result in irretrievable damage to the state’s centuries’ old traditions. Muslim appeasement and Islamist elements would have played their parts!
On the other hand, if the majority decide to change course and vote in a nationalist party, then a redemption of sorts will have been made and the long journey of re-establishing the true cultural mores, heritage and traditions would have commenced.
As a ‘probasi’ Bengali, I am sanguine for the future of West Bengal.