What ails Bengal today?

It is at this corner of the world – the eastern part of India – where people have been shaped for ages to deal with a highly humid tropical climate, that has produced quite a set of notable personalities in the fields of arts, science and philosophy. The likes of Rabindranath Tagore, Jamini Ray, Satyajit Ray, Satyendranath Bose, Meghnad Saha, Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo illustrate the point.

However, it has also led to an observation on how producing such a set of intellectuals have resulted in a social evolution whereby this very social class – the Bengalis – coupled with the evolution of political systems in this region, have come to believe with time that individualism works better that collectivism; success is more pronounced at the individual intellectual level than a group of people engaged in a team activity and associated achievement. The political systems have resonated that and has given more than enough wood to this fire of thought.

Whereas we can see similar phenomena in many individualistic societies across the world, particularly in western countries who have inculcated this philosophy under the ‘freedom of though and expression’ banner; in Bengal, the disparity of the common, mostly uneducated masses of Bengal and this very intelligentsia has created this problem of haves and have-nots at a very individual level. On this line of thought, the political system on one hand has encouraged this disparity through blatant propaganda of this intelligentsia, and on the other hand has encouraged formation of quasi-groups (note that individuals in these groups have still not adapted working in a collective teamwork based approach, unlike in many other parts of India) to counter this very intelligentsia. This has led to problems of labor unrest, low productivity and local illegal syndicates in Bengal, whereas today the real intelligentsia have slowly moved out to greener pastures.

As an example, in one specific instance, in a particular university a professor emeritus associated with it gave his whole life’s earnings to build a laboratory for the university to both further his research and encourage students to leverage it. When he retired, the local syndicate (in Bengal, politics still hold a sway over educational institutions) barred him from even entering the university premises, let alone the lab. The result over time was that, the expensive equipments were taken away and possibly sold off for the “betterment of local infrastructure” which essentially meant feeding the goons that represented the syndicate. You can easily guess what the professor would have naturally done.

Today, with the high political polarity that Bengal experiences day in and day out, the common Bengali fails to realise that irrespective of the party he or she supports so passionately, it is the Bengali as the people or race who has dug its own grave. I, being a common Bengali, was failing to realise this when I was in school years back; even I, at that point of time, joined other Bengalis in criticising such views that came from the likes of Nirad C. Chowdhury, an erstwhile well known writer then settled abroad (possibly in the UK). The realisation came when I moved out of this part of the country in search of a job; it was a bird’s eye view which showed, whatever political faction each of this class of people fought for – all individual wars as any essence of teamwork has been still missing – each of them looked the same; a quintessential Bengali.

Can this be changed?


Courage, a Divorce and a Kid

Mou is a simple lady from a quintessential conservative Bengali [Indian] family, with a lovely daughter named Sharmi. Long years of marriage coupled with the lure of a different enchanting woman were enough reasons for her husband, Deban, to forsake her; a lure so strong and a drudgery so dreadful that Deban did not even have time to think for a moment that along with her good wife goes away her lovely daughter. And what happens to the tears that incessantly flows down through Mou’s eyes? What happens to Mou when every time her daughter asks why her dad left them?

It is a story of sheer determination and courage that Mou, together with her little daughter, show – facing all the odds and aftermath of the divorce, and finding solace in the company of a few old people they called their family. But then, doesn’t life take a U-turn?

Sharmi grows up to be an independent and determined woman, with courage equal to that of her mother if not more. But does she think of any retribution towards her father for the pain she and her mother had suffered for so long?

Read on to find out more in the “Life Takes A You-Turn”, a novel that is about two women, and their mothers from whom they inherited their characters, brought together by their fate.

Get it atĀ amazon sites worldwide, either in kindle reader, or as a paperback [availability varies with respect to the specific country’s site].

Are you like Ankita? Or Sharmi?

A little girl, wearing specs a bit large for her eyes, walks with her mother through the dusty roads of Kolkata back from her school. She enjoys chatting non-stop with her about how she saved her friend from being bullied. There are bouts of enjoyment in her life whenever her dad, who works abroad, visits her and her mother once a while; and the adventurous trips and times she shares with him. Years pass by and she slowly blossoms into a talkative, utterly confident and extrovert woman, though a bit whimsical while it comes to deciding things for herself. Being an avid karate expert and a discerning lawyer, her fighting spirit helps wriggle out of difficult situations – for instance, a rendezvous with a group of antisocials and a mysterious encounter with witches, as apparently perceived, in the deep hilly forests of north east India. She is Ankita.

Far away in Bangalore grows up a cute little girl who always loves to cozying up in her mother’s lap. She has struggled to understand, at such a tender age, why her father left her mother for some unknown woman. The love of her grandparents completes her circle which she calls family. Her adventures have been pretty confined to the alleys and streets of the city, more so confined to the company of her mom, grandparents and friends. She grows up to be a doctor – a confident practical woman, somewhat of a grave demeanour – a bit introvert at times and a consistently responsible caring person. Her life gets into utterly difficult situations including trysts with dacoits in a forest at the rural edges of the country. She is Sharmi.

Fate extends her long hands in getting them together where Ankita’s extrovert though whimsical nature perfectly complements the confident yet introvert demeanour of Sharmi. A story of two friends.

So, are you the one like Ankita? Or Sharmi? And do you have a friend who completes your life, your journey into unknown realms, by complementing you so well? It may even be one or both of your parents, your husband (or wife), your sibling, or your child.

My novel “Life Takes A You-Turn” is where Ankita and Sharmi come to life and take you through a series of drama, adventures and a climax that changes both their lives through their unfathomable courage. Read, and explore.

[Get it at Amazon sites worldwide, either as a kindle version or in print, depending on the country you order from]