‘Leadership fights, colonialism, contradictory trends in Bengali society’

Kolkata, Jan 13 (IANS) Renowned social theorist Ashis Nandy has said contradictions within the Bengali society such as the class struggle and imparity in the degree of creativity and knowledge were largely caused by the majority of Bengalis’ defeat at the hand of “a few upper classes” in their fight for social, cultural and political leadership.

“Bengalis were most deeply captivated by the culture of colonialism. They considered the success of Bengali renaissance as a great achievement. But all the contributions which we are so proud of, came from the three upper castes while the rest of Bengal was not that much touched by it,” Nandy said, discussing author Sudeep Chakravarti’s new book on the Bengali community at the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival here on Friday.

“Many of the contradictions within the Bengali society is a direct by-product of a majority of Bengali’s defeat in the fight for social leadership, cultural leadership as well as political leadership,” he pointed out.

Nandy said the introduction of British colonialism in Bengali culture nearly a century ahead of the rest of India, gave it an upper hand over a lot of other communities in the country in dominating the colonial system but at the same time it also created a rift with others as colonialism became an inseparable fabric of the Bengali society.

“There are three or four crucial elements in Bengali identity that explain not all the contradictions in their characteristics, but most of it. The first thing is, Bengal was basically a tribal society like Maharashtra and Guajrat. The Bramhinical influence in Bengal came in quiet late and the second thing is the impact of modern colonialism in this culture,” Nandy noted.

“The process of colonialism started in Bengal at least a century ahead of the other parts of India. As a result, the Bengalis were first inducted to the colonial system and they dominated it and this colonial input became an indestructible nectar within the Bengali society,” he added.

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