Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Bengal Model

Much has been said in the just-concluded 2014 General Election about the Gujarat Model - the BJP has used it as a propaganda tool and its opponents have trashed it sometimes reasonably and sometimes through cleverly-manipulated data.

However, in the midst of electioneering, an interesting term has come up  -'The Bengal Model,' that is supposed to be wonderful and just what India needs (more than the Gujarat Model in any case). Just what is this Model and what does it imply?

West Bengal, which after Independence was second only to Bombay in prosperity (and both provinces lost territory in Partition - Bombay lost Sindh and hence Karachi and Bengal lost its eastern half and hence Dhaka), is today a hotbed of left-wing extremism, one of the most backward and poorest states in the Union. And the reason lies squarely on the three decades and more of Communist rule in the state. In the last sixty years, Bengal has literally gone backwards and in terms of prosperity, stands where it was well before the East Indian Company invaded.

But all this is history - the pertinent question is what Bengalis are doing about it. And it is there where the so-called Bengal Model, supposedly pioneered by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (who, to her credit, did defeat the Communists in what was a great achievement). But Banerjee was proven to be no different than her Communist opponents: her economic policies are just the same, her embrace of Leftist intellectuals mirror her predecessors'. If anything, her shameless levels of minority appeasement and the end of the bandh-culture in the state are the only things that are really unique to her.

Bengal today is a hole of hopelessness, where dreams are crushed. Young Bengalis simply have to move to other states to make a living - to the South for education or to the West (including Gujarat) for jobs. Bengal itself is a symbol of decayed infrastructure, massive poverty and illiteracy. It is a living symbol of why Leftist ideology is a ticket to doom - perhaps North Korea is a comparable example. Only two kinds of people can live in Bengal: the retired, who have their life savings (from other parts of India) to tide them through; and the intellectuals who live off government doles and official largess, which come from borrowed money from the RBI, which once again comes from the industrialized West and South of India.

What then is this Bengal Model? Is it a Model that India as a whole can replicate? No - because somebody has to pay the bills in the end. Is it a Model that the young can look up to? No - because the young need jobs and industries, unless of course they aspire to be intellectuals who live off others. When Mamatadi praises her so-called Bengal Model, for anybody who has been to Bengal, it is a cruel joke. Bengalis are running away from Bengal (and being replaced by Bangladeshi infiltrators). It is a Model of doom.  

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