A long time ago, maybe a thousand years ago but certainly a little over a hundred years ago, Bengal was remarkably prosperous. Something happened that led to its transformation from past prosperity to present destitution. What was it? A natural disaster, meaning something that was not humanly caused but something had natural causes? Or was it something that humans brought about by choice?
Let’s be very clear about one feature of this universe we inhabit. That is, nothing stays the same. Ceaseless change is unavoidable. The great, the seemingly invincible invariably decline and are replaced. The Buddhist call it anicca — impermanence. If you expect a changeless world, you are guaranteed to be disappointed.
Bengal’s decline and fall was as inevitable as the seasons. Bengal was once arguably an amazingly prosperous region of the world. Today it is a pitiably impoverished part of the world. The transition was inevitable because nothing lasts forever. Yet, out of plain curiosity one can ask what caused the phenomenal decline. Here’s my opinion.
I don’t know why the rot started but it did with the advent of Islam in that region of India. The Islamization of Bengal was the HIV-infection of that region of the world. The fact is that HIV itself does not kill the organism. It just renders the immune system of the infected host to fail. Consequently, the host becomes vulnerable to any minor infection that a non-HIV individual’s immune system would easily fight. A simple cold is survivable by HIV- people but develops into pneumonia that kills a HIV+ person.
Islam was the equivalent of the HIV infection. What Bengal succumbed to was the ordinarily survivable common cold — socialism that developeded into communism. Sure, communism killed Bengal but only because Bengal’s immune system was totally destroyed by the HIV virus of Islam acquired some time before.
How advanced was Bengal? From what I can gather, the British considered India the jewel in the colonial crown, and within India, Calcutta was the center of the action. Calcutta was the capital of the British Indian Empire until 1911.
How amazing was Calcutta? Would you believe it that it was once a contender as the “hub of the universe”? I would not believe that. But here’s what they said in the London Daily News of January 18th, 1876, “Calcutta … swaggers as if it were the hub of the universe.”
That item appears in this book published in 1912.
From being a contender as the “hub of the universe” to being such a hell-hole in which the charlatan missionary (pardon me for redundancy) Teresa exploited to gather her millions to enrich her mission to convert the pathetically impoverished — how did that happen?
How disastrous was the decline? You have see it for yourself if you ever have the misfortune of visiting Kolkata (which by the way is how the city has always been referred to by its residents). I have visited Kolkata and it is unquestionably a hellhole. I say that even though my ancestors are from Bengal.
You don’t have to go to Bengal to see its decline and fall. Statistics tell the story more starkly than any anecdote could. My friend Sudipta pointed me to a piece in Swarajya magazine that lays it all in detail.
Let me put this as starkly and as forcefully as I can. Bengal’s decline is the result of bad ideas. It started with Islam and that prepared it for the next infection of communism/socialism. Now Bengal is dying.
If it were just Bengal, we would still be alright. But the problem is writ large in India. India is also going the way of Bengal — infected by HIV and unable to fight socialism.
The current strain of socialism is promoted by someone who is an avowed Hindu — Narendra Modi. But then Hindus did promote Islam in the past. It killed them eventually, and so will this new Hindu — eventually.
Bengal’s decline and fall presages what’s in store for India. Like other Hindus before him, Modi is doing all that’s possible for India’s decline and fall. Though to be fair, he is merely doing the road laying; the route has been mapped by his predecessors and he’s just doing what he needs to do to win the next election.
The image at the top of this post is one that I found when I searched for image of “West Bengal” on google. It show a hoard of Muslims. There is no hope for what’s left of Bengal.