Oof! Bengali Chauvinism!

By Saswat Pattanayak

Indrajit Hazra, an Editor with Hindustan Times gloats over how the ‘moment has come for fellow Bengalis’ now that Pranab Mukherjee enters “Rashtropoti Bhobon”! And in the tradition of a classic supremacist, he feels it necessary to inflame in the readers regionalistic suspicions that are unfounded and dangerous.

In a way, it is quite predictable that Hazra would choose this path, for this narrow and myopic route seems to be the only plausible manner one can glorify this political selection for the highest post of our country with. Somehow in the figment of Hazra’s repulsive imaginations, Oriyas are upset over Mr Mukherjee’s selection essentially because he happens to be a Bengali. Again within his nauseating scheme of historical imaginings, Oriyas have a need to reclaim Netajee Subhas Chandra Bose or President V. V. Giri.

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And yet again, the Oriyas have become the losers, Hazra surmises. Such losers that, he writes, “the outbreak of celebrations in the state next door has been keeping neighbours in Orissa awake at night.”

As unpalatable as it may sound, Oriyas have certainly lost sleep over the celebrations in the state next door since decades now, just as any oppressed group experiences lack of sleep when a bunch of neighboring racists culturally subjugate it. However, this has to do only with principled opposition to Bengali racism (which continues to violate not just Orissa, but the North-Eastern regions as well) and it has nothing to do with Mr Mukherjee’s unenviable political selection.

Hazra is not naive when it comes to understanding racism. After all, he empathizes with Karan Johar’s victimization when it comes to the racist institution that bestows Academy Awards in America. But he is abominably proud of his own Bengali racism. And his declaration in glee at a “Durga-worshipping, non-Oriya, Kulin Brahmin” President of India completely fits the pattern of his abhorrently racist mentality.

Only if the essay penned down by Hazra were a satire. Alas, it is not. It is a definitive byproduct of a parochial mindset that must claim the President of India and Netaji Subhas Bose as mere Bengalis or the current Prime Minister as just a Punjabi. His joy at realizing that Mr Mukherjee as a President will not have to report to a non-Bengali boss is also a harrowing attempt at claiming “Bengali superiority”.

His contention that Oriyas are at fault for identifying Netaji Subhas’ place of birth, which according to Hazra is an inaccurate identification, for Cuttack was under Bengal Presidency those days, is a deliberate extension of a perverted mind nurtured after myths of cultural purities. It is equally illogical an extension, considering colonial subjects then – according to Hazra’s reasoning – would have to be identified with colonial masters if someone born and brought up in Orissa has to be declared hailing from Bengal. In the same vein every Indian under British rule then would have to be called a Britisher. Hazra’s venomous campaigns to malign the Oriyas has resulted in this deliberate oversight.

While Hazra makes a case for “long-pending ethnic-, religious- and gender-based biases being reversed” in this century, he misses the mark in his own racist overtones. And that is a tragedy. The bigger tragedy of course is that the Hindustan Times, long associated with history of India’s freedom struggles, decided to publish such a racist, casteist and antinational article that can only serve to antagonize one region against another within the Republic of India.

It is prudent to remember that Manmohan Singh is correctly opposed by large majority of concerned Indian citizens not because he is a Punjabi, but because of his relentless McDonaldization of India. Likewise Pranab Mukherjee is not going to be evaluated by Indian people for his birth in West Bengal, but because of his track record of being an accomplice to Mr Singh. The fact that Hazra glorifies the President’s privileges (of being a Bengali vis-a-vis the Oriyas, and of being a “Kulin Brahmin” in a country deeply wounded through upper-caste hegemonies) as matters of pride for the Bengalis speaks about the callous insensitiveness and lack of humanity on his part.

One merely hopes that the “fellow Bengalis” whom Hazra, a racist journalist has beckoned for support in his supremacist march, resent his unfortunate and un-interrogated privileges; and as much as we all enjoy free press, the Hindustan Times stands upto its historically responsible missions in acknowledging its lapse of judgment and morality for having entertained such divisive, bloodthirsty and reactionary a writer.

15 comments » Write a comment

  1. British rule has successfully destroyed any sense of nationalism and promoted regional nationalism all over the country. All Indian scripts have the same structure & ordering of letters. Chaitanya or Shankaracharya did not face any language problem. Only in British rule, different type faces were used for each state languages. But shape of number 9 in Oriya & Bangla remains the same as the 9th vowel Lri as written in Bangla script. Ignorant of own language & script, Suniti Kumar Chatterji was explaining linguistics of whole India, but his whole attempt was to show that Vidyapati, Jaideva-all belonged to Bengal. Prof Virendra Gupta showed that main markets of all ancient towns was in his home district Meerut. V.V. Mirasi showed that Buddha, Kalidasa-all belonged to his home district Nagpur. To cap it all- the whole Indian civilization is made Indus valley whose name is modified now to Sarasvati-Sindhu civilization. For historians moulded in Oxford pattern, nothing in world exists beyond that. Within Orissa (Odisha) itself, name of state is copied from English spelling originated from Audriya which became Oryza in Greek ( origin of word rice). In modern Orissa, 99% common people worship Sri Jagannatha, but ruling elite is devoted to Ravenshaw as he killed 35 lakh people by starving in 1865 when there was surplus food production. He is called father of modern Oriya as if Jaganatha Das and Sarala das did not know Oriya. To cover up this genocide, false stories were propagated in 1893 by Vincent Smith that even in Hindu period 10.5 lakh persons were killed/injured/arrested. Ravenshaw wanted the figure of 35 lakhs,but it exceeded population of the then Kalinga. Even 10.5 lakhs exceeds present strength of Indian army. To show that Hindus were as murderous as British, fake story of renouncing violence by Ashoka with Buddhism is floated-not found anywhere in any inscription including Dhauli. Even Bauddha text Divyavadan tells that Ashoka had killed 12000 Kain monks after victory over Kalinga.

  2. Hybrids are always over-assertive. Hybrid flowers, hybrid vegetables, hybrid plants, hybrid animals are samples of how hybrid zin is a showy zin that asserts to be better than the genuine. Man is no exception. Otherwise, why Hazra wrote what has he written?

    No Oriya has any reason to take Hazra into cognizance. He is ignorant of the historical truth that Bengal or Bengalis were not in the politico-economic and philosophic-cultural horizon of India where the Oriyas were reigning for ages.

    Therefore, it is no wonder that there was no monument worth mention in Indian history books of Bengal prior to Moghul era in comparison to historical monuments like Konark, Jagannath, Lingaraj and Rajarani Temples, Lalit Giri-Ratna Giri and Udaya Giri Budhist Traingle and many more such monuments as are seen in land known as Orissa and in the Oriya speaking tracts in neighboring states.

    Bengali chauvinists like Hazra may write for their vernacular school kids that Kohinoor came from the coal mines of Raniganj, we do not mind.

  3. i know simply one thing, those who have no dignity of their own, they boast of small manipulative achievements. so a bengali has found it natural to rejoice in small things like pranab mukherjee becoming the president of india.

  4. Orissa embodies the cultural heritage of India. We are a people whose Dance, Paintings, Music , Language, Heritage are unique and CLASSICAL.

    Oriya became the 1st classical language in Indo Aryan Family.

    Our dance is classical, our Patachitra is classical, our heritages such as rock edicts and temples like Konark are classical and we feel proud that now our beautiful ancient language has earned the long over due recognition as classical language. Our music is de facto classical and we are sure, soon it will be taged to the classical group.

  5. these un-necessary comments by bigoted journalists and their follow ups are bad for us INDIANS.We are indians first. I see Saswat Pattanayak equally bigoted..

    • Rohanji,
      Saswat Pattanayak has done what a person addressed to people’s right to be informed should have done. It is yet a matter of shame for India that Pranab Mukherjee has not yet apologized to people of Orissa for what his protege Indrajit Hazra wrote in Hindustan Times. Innumerable Indians, including some of the Begalis that are not irresponsible, have condemned Hazra and Hindustan Times for the filthy piece. No sane person can accept that Pranab Mukherjee is not aware of this. His silence speaks volumes of what stuff he is made of and what his supporters are. We are proud that we have carried Saswat Pattanayk’s wise animadversion on the issue. Thus saying, I thank you for having preferred your comment.

    • Indians not at any cost. Just not! Every region has its own identity. India is like a mini Europe. Even a french will not speak English for the sake of it, despite of knowing it. A German for that matter. Its fine to advocate your culture and heritage. Absolutely fine. Indians themselves are ashamed outside India, the very reason they are not welcomed in same level as Chinese. We can only do this rhetoric, we are Indians blah blah. We have to understand the pulses of the people , masses and regions. BTW, which state you belong to? Don’t tell me Indian first. Even , I’m Indian. This journalism is not bigoted. Certainly not! You have to accept the facts. Most of the Indians behave more British than the British themselves. There are many states in India and they have their own identity before they actually are considered a part of the Indian union. Let us accept that fact. Lets not be ignorant. Having said all these, I am a proud Indian and a proud Odia. Nothing wrong in preserving your heritage and culture at the same time accepting the good things from other cultures.

      Thank you!
      Partha Sarathi Samantaray

  6. It is a cause of concern that whenever an innocent person from the NE was gang raped and killed in a place like the national capital, the individuals from the Bengali society would come out blazing words of insinuation and indifference against the victim and their loved ones — like a jack in a box that never failed to spring up when opened.

    Such a cannibalistic instinct is unfortunately no loner a surprise to a keen observer. It’s a hewn out path in the rock of the ages.

    Do you deny these:
    (a) How many Bengalis had been gang-raped by the NE Highlanders, none.
    (b) How many NE Highlanders had been gang-raped by the Bengalis, many.

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