Image Source: Facebook page of Shree Venkatesh Films
A debate has been raging on social and mainstream media on the proposed change of name for West Bengal. The state government, in a recent Cabinet meeting, decided to drop ‘West’ from the name of the State. It is proposed that the new name would be Bengal in English and Bangla or Banga in Bengali. This has triggered a debate among people with a section happy that the confusion, over why an eastern State was called West Bengal, will finally come to and end, while another section is flabbergasted at the attempt to denounce history.
The blame for this debate must go to Lord Curzon, who in 1905 decided to partition then Bengal Presidency into two parts: East and West. Although he cited administrative reasons for the exercise, the idea was to drive a wedge between the Hindus and Muslims in Bengal. There were massive protests across the province against the devilish designs of Lord Curzon; Rabindranath Tagore famously penned his song ‘Banglar Mati Banglar Jol’ and initiated the ‘Raakhi Utsav’ to foster ties of brotherhood between the two communities. Finally, the partition was annulled in 1911 and Calcutta paid a price as the National Capital of India was shifted to Delhi.
History too had different plans for Bengal; in 1947 after the partition of India, Bengal was again divided – East Bengal became a part of Pakistan and West Bengal remained with India. Until 1954, East Bengal was an autonomous unit which became an eastern province of Pakistan in 1955, thus becoming East Pakistan. In 1971, after the liberation war, East Pakistan became an independent country and took the name Bangladesh.
There have been attempts in the past to rename West Bengal (right from the days of Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy till Jyoti Basu). This is an issue where unanimous public opinion would always remain a red herring. East Bengal (or East Pakistan) managed to shed its baggage of history and adopted the name Bangladesh. Why should that burden be perennially placed on the shoulders of West Bengal?
The prefix ‘West’ brings with it the sad memory of partition, of refugees, of not-so-pleasant goodbyes; it is a constant reminder of the bloodshed and violence that came with independence. Homes were destroyed, families were broken, people were displaced – all for the whims of a few in power. The prefix ‘West’ before Bengal is like the appendix in our body; getting rid of it could bring closure to thousands who are still tormented by their experience of partition.
Bengal is changing, for the better. To move towards a new tomorrow, we must break free from the shackles of the past. As much as we remember our shared history with Bangladesh, we cannot let ourselves be weighed down by the gravity of a name. This is the age of branding and ‘Bengal’ is much more appealing and attractive.
We must also remember, no matter how hard we try, we can never put the two Bengals together again. Apart from our shared mother language, we have nothing left in common. ‘West’ Bengal is a province of a larger country with its own share of problems. Bangladesh is a different country with realities of its own. The two Bengals can collaborate, never unify. To carry the burden of ‘West’ to keep the idea of unified Bengal alive is an exercise in futility.
There is a section which feels this issue is a meaningless diversion from the lacunae in governance. I wish to point out to them the results of the recently-concluded Assembly elections in West Bengal where the ruling party was voted to power for a second term with a landslide verdict. Even the strongest critic of the government cannot point fingers at the voting process. A mandate of that magnitude is achieved only by good work, agenda for development and progress.
Moreover, anyone following the daily events would be aware that this proposed change of name is not at the cost of other works. On the same day the Cabinet decide to change the name of the State, the Chief Minister held a high-level meeting regarding illegal promoters and dengue scare. For the last 3 days she has toured three districts and held administrative review meetings about progress of various projects. West Bengal is placed in safe hands as far as governance is concerned.
Even Germany broke the Berlin Wall, which was a remnant of World War II and moved on. It is about time Bengal does too. East or West, the Bengali spirit always flies high!
P.S. – A lot of morons mocked the name Banga (confusing it with Bongo, that’s how we Bengalis pronounce Banga) without even realising Banga is a part of India’s National Anthem. Hope they expanded their knowledge of languages.
DISCLAIMER: All Images Used In This Post Have Their Respective Copyrights
21 July, 2007. That was the last time Potterheads across the world got a slice of their favourite magical world. With the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last book in the seven-book series, the epic saga came to a close. Harry Potter fulfilled the prophecy by slaying the Dark Lord Voldemort. The grand Battle of Hogwarts was won and we bed a tearful goodbye to our favourite triumvirate of Harry-Ron-Hermione as they prepared their next generation for Hogwarts, 19 years later.
So, when JK Rowling announced in 2015 that she was bringing Harry Potter back, it was a dream come true for all her fans. Nine years of wait ended as Harry Potter returned with his ‘Cursed Child’. Written by JK Rowling in collaboration with John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is currently onstage in London.
To come up with a sequel of the Harry Potter series was a daunting task and JK Rowling has lived up to the expectations set by readers across the globe. The book ‘opens at close’ (begins with a stage adaptation of the Epilogue of Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows). We find Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, Draco at King’s Cross Station, seeing their kids off. We are introduced to James, Rose, Albus, Lily.
From the first scene itself Harry Potter and the Cursed Child takes you on a trip of nostalgia. Platform 93/4, the steamy Hogwarts Express, Lady with the trolley and two boys sealing a bond of friendship aboard the train – the more you read, the more you are immersed in memories of your childhood when the magical world seemed more real to you than the mundane Muggle existence.
The book is pacey and at 330 odd pages it is among the shortest stories of the Harry Potter series; not unexpected, though, as this is the script used for rehearsals of the play. Even with such fewer words, Rowling explores the characters with finesse. A teenager, Albus Severus Potter, is grappling with the burden of expectations his father’s name brings along. He finds a companion in Scorpius, son of Draco Malfoy, who is also shunned by the wizarding world (reasons for which are better left unsaid).
Halfway through Act 1, when you might start wondering what turn this story would take, the tale takes a turn that’d make you sit up and hold your horses before judging Rowling. True to her style, the book is full of wit and wonder, even in the face of wildest travesties. And then there references to the old series that would make your eyes moist (you cannot resist laughing out loud when Snape makes an appearance).
And as you travel in time (quite literally), you can also relate the narrative to socio-political realities of our modern world. In an Orwellian manner, Rowling also warns the world against dictatorial fascism, specially in these times of violence and rising intolerance. It is essential more than ever to embrace our pluralities and celebrate the diversity of this beautiful world.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is also a coming-of age tale. Rowling has thrown in a lesson or two of parenting, too. Above all, the play (or the story, as I like to describe it as) is about coming to terms with our past. This book is a lesson that we must not hold time in high regard and be responsible with our present, because in future, our past deeds will drive the course of actions.
As the play drew to a close, Rowling kept hopes of future books in the Harry Potter franchise alive. I, for one, would kill to read many more tales of adventure involving Albus and Scropius (and may be Rose could join them, too).
There is no way a Potterhead would rate Harry Potter and the Cursed Child anything less than 5 stars, and I would dare not.
Grab your copy now and make your Monday more meaningful, NOW!