Monday, June 08, 2015

Resurgent Bengal?

After becoming Chief Minister of Bengal, angry lady Mamata Banerjee did not offer too many occasions to praise her. But with two PMs - Modi and Sheikh Hasina - on her sides in brokering the settlement of land borders between India and Bangladesh; Mamata has lived up to her promise. Here she is the leader towering over two Prime Ministers delivering what ultimately is the right step in the welfare of Bengali People on both sides of the border. That Mamata gave up a parochial, narrow viewpoint to see the larger goodness encompassing all Bengalis is a heartening sight in otherwise perennially divided subcontinent on caste, religion or language basis. 

Division of Bengal by Lord Curzon was one of the most imperial hubris by the British Empire heaped on the subcontinent. If there was one occasion which helped to cultivate "British Rule as the Machiavellian divide and rule approach" among India's population; it was the Partition of Bengal more than hundred years ago. It took more than a century just to have land demarcation done. Sharing of river waters and co-operation on sea links are still incomplete. We are still counting wages of Lord Curzon's sins.

But then precisely because population of subcontinent did not remain united and did not show the vision in sorting their problems on their own; British Raj exploited Bengalis and Indians at large. No-one is looking at the possibility of undoing what Lord Curzon did. But what West Bengal, India and Bangladesh can do is to remove cobwebs of past and lay down the foundation to bring prosperity to 156 Million Bangladeshis and 91 Million residents of West Bengal. There may be an international border between West Bengal and Bangladesh; but it is hard to imagine peaceful and prosperous Bangladesh without the active support and backing of India which shares land border on all 3 sides of that country. There is much to be gained by both countries when  Bengal imagination is unleashed on both sides of the border. Bengali language is the umbilical cord, but shared history - unfortunately tragic on so many occasions - and realization of same destiny; are the forces to be recognized. Channelling this energy, 'can-do spirit' towards constructive purposes is the job of politicians on both sides of the border. It is great to see that Indian PM Modi is sizing on this opportunity with gusto, Mamata facilitating this co-operation and Bangladesh PM seeing virtues of such co-operation; all are equal signs of maturing polity in the subcontinent.

Lot of commentary on this subject is through the geopolitical angle of how Modi's India is trying to catchup with China in wowing nations in the sub-continent. That may be so; but the heart of such co-operation needs to be recognized - opportunity opened to leaders of subcontinent to correct enormous human suffering folks of Bengal and subcontinent have suffered over the years due to British Raj mistakes followed by sustenance of those divisions instituted by British Raj. In overcoming these sins of pasts, if it means India to be more generous on most occasions; then so be the case. It is great to see that Indian PM Modi clearly sees the need and utility of such an magnanimous approach to India's subcontinent neighbors. So long as he keeps delivering on that; chances of subcontinent wide peace and prosperity will keep improving. 

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