Bengal, the enemy territory: Racist contempt by Media Organizations, Personnel and Public Intellectuals in BJP-RSS Ecosystem

Co-authored by Saswati Sarkar, Shanmukh, Dikgaj

In this series, we investigate ethnic hatred endemic to the BJP-RSS ecosystem, specifically in social media, against the various ethnicities. In the first article of the series [33], we specified out objectives and the roadmap we intend to follow for the series. In the second article of the series [16], we investigate the ethnic hatred engendered by the constitutional and statutory body appointees of the BJP-RSS government.

We now consider the narrative of public intellectuals and parts of media that are close to BJP. We include published articles and Social Media articulations of the top office-bearers of such venues, which will go on to show how every section of the Bengalis, from intellectuals to Bhadraloks to lower middle class to urban and rural poor and riot victims have been systematically maligned. We show that the ethnic descriptor of `Bengali’ conjures a strongly negative image in the public discourse of the BJP-RSS ecosystem. Indeed, the Bengali image is very similar to the image of the Jew used in Eastern Europe. Vitally, lack of patriotism is imposed on the Bengalis, just as it is on the Jews of Eastern Europe [34], [36], even when the Jews are long gone [38]. In Ukraine, the pro-Russian separatists blamed Jews [35] for controlling everything, as did the Ukrainean nationalists [37]. Further, Bengalis are supposed to be in a vast conspiracy to control events spread widely in time and space. This is similar to how the Neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers portray the Jews as being able to control events across the globe, and especially in Germany [39]. Finally, the Bengali identifier is used as a catch all phrase for a varied sort of vices, just as `Moorish blood’ was used in Spain [40]. It is also of some interest to observe that the blaming of Bengalis is similar to how the Pakistanis blame everything on the Yahood-Hunood (Hindu-Jewish) conspiracy [41].

We show that the ethnic identity of the Bengalis is pitted against their religious and national identities, the same choice is not however forced on members of ethnicities high up in the pecking order in the ecosystem. We also also show that the discourse hovers around denying Bengal any cultural and historical legacy that can not be maligned as examples of cowardice, perversion and ignorance. This reminds us of modus operandi of almost every colonial power: 1) denigrate locals 2) distort history so as to deny them pride in their heritage 3) disassociate them from their cultural heritages. A separate article will be necessary to deal with the falsehoods concerning the historical and cultural legacy of Bengal in detail; here, we merely limit ourselves to a few highlights.

Like colonial powers, the ecosystem also involves and promote those among the locals (Bengalis in this case, eg, Governor Tathagata Roy [16], Journalist Jaideep Mazumdar, Prof. Goutam Sen), or among those with family connections to locals (eg, Swarajya CEO Prasanna Viswanathan), who would spearhead the efforts in some or all of 1)-3) above. We are therefore noticing a proclivity, to resort to facile defences such as for example, `I am a Bengali’, `I am married to a Bengali’, `I have hired many Bengalis’, etc. when they are questioned on evident ethnic contempt against Bengalis in their discourses. Therefore, we repeat our earlier case as to why the ethnicity of those generating a discourse, or their personal connections to the ethnicity, are irrelevant in assessing biases in their contents. Note that ethno-religious groups have often been betrayed by their own. Many of the ethnic minorities in the erstwhile USSR had a history of acting against their own compatriots. For instance, both Stalin and his deputy, Lavrenty Beria, were Georgians; both were deeply involved in the massacre of the Georgian intellectuals and even old Bolsheviks like Mdivani in the 1930s p. 225 [26]. Similarly, Ilya Ehrenburg, a Jew himself, later admitted to lying about several murders, of Jews among others, he had known committed during the Stalinist times [27]. Genrikh Yagoda and Nikolai Yezhov (the former was a Jew, the latter had a Jewish wife) also helped murder thousands of Jews in the Great Purge in the 1930s. Finally, Khadzhi Ghabidullin, a pro-Moscow Tatar, was used to oust and eliminate the `Nationalist Tatars’ of Mirsaid Sultan Galiyev [28]. In India, Ala-ud-din Khilji’s son apparently had a deep love for another Hindu Rajput princess [25]. Jahangir was married to multiple Hindu Rajput princesses, including those of Jaipur p. 175, [24] and of Jodhpur. The princess of Jodhpur was also the mother of his heir, Shah Jahan [23]. Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb also hired a large number of Hindus, including Rajputs, in their military and administration. Did Khilji, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb not perpetrate religious atrocities against the Hindus, including the Rajputs, then? In Gujarat, several wealthy Indic merchants colluded with the Islamic rulers there, facilitating the regimes politically and financially, and enjoyed wealth and power in return; all the while, the same rulers exploited the Indic commoners of Gujarat who lived in abject penury and starved to death during the famines [29]. Then again, Man Singh of Jaipur, crushed local Hindu kings of Bengal like Pratapaditya on behalf of Mughal emperor Akbar, with the assistance of some local Hindu Bengali collaborators who were subsequently richly rewarded. With the fall of Pratapaditya, large parts of Bengal were opened up for the slaving expeditions by the Portugese-Magh combination, which ravaged Bengal for centuries [30]. In the current context, many Hindus have been known to bear strong hatred of Hindus, and Jews have shown anti-semitism too. In fact, the bulk of BJP-RSS base accuses, with some justifications, several Hindu journalists like Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai, Dilip Padgaonkar, Kumar Ketkar, Nikhil Wagle and intellectuals like Mallika Sarabhai, Teesta Setalvad, Girish Karnad, Anantamurthy, Prashant Bhushan, etc, of Hindu-phobia. Similarly, non-Hindus with Hindu spouses like Amir Khan and Javed Anand have been pilloried on charges of anti-Hindu bias. If their or their spouses’ religious denominations are not considered a defense of their bias against one religion, as it should not, neither can the ethnic connections of those in the echosystem serve as a legitimate shield. Thus, contempt of a member of an ethnicity, or of one with familial connections to the ethnicity, on the ethnicity as a whole, should be subjected to the same scrutiny as that of an outsider.

In this article, as a specific example, we will primarily consider the Swarajya Group, though throughout we will invoke discourses from other venues in this space too. Swarajya Magazine’s positions are mostly supportive of those of BJP at the Centre and at different states. Four of the five members of its editorial advisory board can be described as follows: 1) a BJP MP (Dr. Swapan Dasgupta), and (2) three high appointees of the BJP government at the centre, Manish Sabharwal, appointed as RBI Director, Bibek Debroy, appointed as the chairman of the Economic Advisory Council, Dr. Surjit Bhalla, appointed as the member of the Economic Advisory Council. More often than not, its views appear to be those of an unofficial mouth-piece of various BJP governments.

Note that the Swarajya Group appears to believe that different ethnicities who inhabit India constitute separate races. While reporting on the Gorkhaland agitation, they referred to the Gorkhas as: “ a proud and brave race who can not only withstand acute hardships, but will also not be cowed down by threats and intimidation’’ [12]. The article we are referring to has been authored by a professional journalist, Jaideep Mazumdar, who regularly writes on Bengal in Swarajya Magazine, and comes across as responsible for covering Bengal in it. Thus, any negative connotation the personnel or publications of the group associates with ethnicities, or any implicit rank-ordering among them, should logically be construed as racism. We will therefore substitute “ethnic’’ with “racist’’ in their connection. Since the bulk of this article will concern with the public discourse of the Swarajya Group and articles in their publications, we have included racism in our title.

We must warn our readers that some of the tweets and articles that we are compelled to cite are crass in nature and apologise in advance for possibly offending their sensibilities. In the interest of quality of public discourse, we limit ourselves to facts and logical analysis, and make it a point to refer to the protagonists respectfully, even while citing their ethnic and personalised abuses.

Section A: The Waste Bengal and her lazy, criminal, majoritarian, parochial resident Bengalis

Swarajya Magazine has published a cover story where it has deliberately and pejoratively distorted the name of a province in India – West Bengal. Goes without saying, its inhabitants primarily constitute the ethnicities (races) targeted by the high appointees of the BJP government named in a previous article of this series, namely Tathagata Roy and Vivek Agnihotri [16]. Distorting a proper noun is unacceptable in any literary standard (as also accepted by one of the editors of the Swarajya Magazine at the time, Surajit Dasgupta):


We will let the reader judge if the distortion follows the pattern of ethnic contempt that we are documenting:


The BJP ecosystem, including Swarajya Magazine, frequently charges Congress for insulting PM Modi for his underprivileged background, but it has no qualms about similarly disparaging West Bengal Chief Minister for growing up in an urban slum. Whats much worse is that they belittle the residents of Bengal in general and the urban poor in particular in language that needs to be read to be believed. We quote: ``Bengal’s masses applaud her [Mamata Banarjee] for speaking their coarse language and being perpetually in the ‘fight’ mode.
That is because they are, all said and done, as intemperate in their language, as coarse in their habits and suffering from the same sense of being subjugated and wronged as Banerjee. This is not to say that all Bengalis are like that; it is the people who remain in Bengal who are. And there is a reason for this. The best and brightest of Bengal never remain in Bengal: they migrate to other states and out of the country in search of better opportunities. Even the mediocre leave Bengal. As so do the hard-working, the enterprising and the industrious lot.
So it is the below-average, the slothful and the incompetent who largely populate Bengal today. And as sociologists say, this section of people are always complaining, ready to blame others for their failings, lack of industriousness and enterprise, and for their miseries, which are largely of their own making. Add to this the decades of being schooled in communist ideology that abhors wealth, wealth-creation, and enterprise, and what you have is a large mass of people who not only don’t have the calibre and the willingness to improve their lot, but also who celebrate poverty and blame others – the well-off, the talented and the enterprising lot – for their sufferings.
Fighting comes naturally to Bengal’s masses today, because their daily life is a fight for the small loaves that come their way. Banerjee has grown up and still lives in that milieu – a slum in south Kolkata, where ugly fights replete with expletives and curses break out over even minor matters like breaking a queue for collecting the trickle of water that spews from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s public taps. Fighting, and using coarse language while doing so, thus comes naturally to her.
It would be safe to say that few, if any, of the people she has grown up and lives amongst, have put in even an iota of hard work in academics or later on in life. The only enterprise in life they would have ever engaged in would be to set up an illegal stall selling fritters on a pavement. Many of them are members of ‘supply syndicates’ that have held the real estate sector in Bengal to ransom. They are all poor, or, at best, lower middle class. Banerjee revels staying among them and being one of them.’ [2]

So, the residents of Bengal are “below-average’’, “slothful’’, “incompetent’’, and Mamata Banarjee’s milieu, that is the poor and the lower-middle class slum-dwellers in Bengal are mostly engaged in illegal activities, and have not put in an iota of hard work ever. It is hard to pin point whats more offensive here, the crudity, the hypocrisy or the class-bias of Mr. Mazumdar. Mamata Banerjee, while crass in her expression, has, to the best of our knowledge, never descended to ethnic slurs against communities, as the Presidents of the state units of BJP, lifelong RSS men, and Governors appointed by BJP are wont to [16]. Further, it is hard to imagine slum dwellers getting any more crass in their language than calling entire masses of unfortunate, deprived humanity fleeing religious persecution `chuhas’, though the slum-dwellers did not have access to the affluence and education that BJP appointed governors who resort to such attacks been privy to. Nor were the slum-dwellers entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining the dignity of the constitutional office of the Governor of a state [16]. But then Bengal masses do not deserve even basic human decency for cheering, and worse, voting in PM Modi’s political foe. And, Mr. Modi and his support-base will hold his opponents responsible for hurting Gujarati pride if they dare to call him `neech admi’, mind you, low-life, not low-born [3]. As far as the BJP-base is concerned, any criticism of PM Modi or his ministers like Smriti Irani is purportedly an act of class-bias, caste-bias or elitism, while dwellers of urban slums in Bengal, who have to break their backs to earn two square meals a day are fair game for crass abuse. We get back to ask them, is it `India first’, or is it `Gujarat first’, or may even be `BJP first’ for him and his base?
While reporting on the Gorkhaland agitation, Bengalis become parochial, for Swarajya Magazine, and the Gorkhas, ``a proud and brave race who can not only withstand acute hardships, but will also not be cowed down by threats and intimidation’’ [12]. Bengalis are accused of “latent parochialism and majoritarianism’’ again in context of the Gorkhaland agitation [4]. Interestingly, the same article notes that Gorkhas have ``faced a lot of discrimination’’ within India, and “have faced violence and have been driven out of states like Assam and Meghalaya.’’  There is however no mention of their being driven out of West Bengal, but the Bengalis become majoritarians, not the Assamese and Meghalayans. Incidentally, it is the Bengalis who have been driven out en masse from considerable parts of the North East, and in their turn they have never expelled any community en masse from the state they principally inhabit – the “Waste Bengal’’ as Swarajya calls it. But, for the Swarajya Group the Bengalis are the only majoritarians, and Swarajya is an honourable magazine. And since ``the Gorkhas want a state (within the Indian Union) that they can call their own, a state that can make them firmly establish their identity as Indians’’, that state must be carved out of West Bengal.
Section B: Bengali as a delegitimizing qualifier
We show how the Bengali ethnicity is invoked, without any contextual obligation, but to reinforce negativity. We start with by examining some sample tweets of the CEO of Swarajya Magazine, Prasanna Viswanathan:


The above tweet is as uninformed as it gets. Prof. Amartya Sen had been awarded Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998, which is possibly the highest recognition in the field. To our knowledge, Nobel Awardees are decided in Europe, possibly with considerable input from communities in respective disciplines in North America. Is it remotely possible that Bengali intellectuals dominate the academic ecosystem in North America and Europe to the extent that they can propel their fellow ethnic to such August awards? This is a classic example of a phobia, that propels one to imagine a hated and feared adversary in every element of the Universe. This is similar to how in Ukraine, the pro-Russian separatists blamed Jews [35] for controlling everything, as did the Ukrainean nationalists [37]., as also how the Neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers portray the Jews as being able to control events across the globe, and especially in Germany [39].

In particular, whenever a Bengali happens to laud Amartya Sen, without any reference to race, Mr. Viswanathan sees definitive proof of the dreaded Bengali parochialism therein:


But, Mr. Viswanathan doesn’t think of Gujarati parochialism, when PM Modi, who happens to be a Gujarati, chooses fellow-Gujarati, Urjit Patel, as the Governor of Reserve bank of India. That appreciation is of course entirely merit-based. Similarly, of course, PM Modi’s campaign centering around an explicit Gujarati asmita messaging is a valid electoral tactics rooted in Gujarati pride, and not in any way appealing to Gujarati parochialism.

It is also pertinent to note that Bengali ethnicity is being drawn in for the Bengalis like Amartya Sen whom the BJP-RSS ecosystem abhors. But, ethnic identity is never brought up for disliked individuals from ethnicities the ecosystem highly rates, eg, Teesta Setalavad, Mallika Sarabhai, Mahesh Bhatt, Sanjiv Bhatt, Ela Bhatt, Tushar Gandhi, Aakar Patel, Salil Tripathi (all Gujaratis), Kumar Ketkar, Dilip Padgaonkar, Nikhil Wagle (all Marathis), Rajdeep Sardesai (Konkani Brahmin from his father’s side and UP-Uttarakhand Brahmin, Pant, from his mother’s). This suggests a pecking order of ethnicities in the ecosystem, where the Gujaratis, Konkanis, Marathis, UP-ites far outrank the Bengalis.

There of course happens to be some inconvenient Bengalis whose accomplishments can not be wished away, by attributing to Bengali parochialism, owing to their connections to the party Mr. Viswanathan evidently supports, or because of frequent homage paid by the PM Mr. Viswanathan is accused of cheer-leading (by some evil Bengalis of course). Two names come to mind – Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Swami Vivekananda. Lets find out Mr. Viswanathan’s creative solution for them:

So, all Bengalis who cant be diminished, have to be somehow associated more with the rest of India, one way or the other. The facts of their greater resonance are of course evident, asking for evidence in support would be heretical. It is irrelevant that most of the revolutionaries that Swami Vivekananda inspired, including Subhas Chandra Bose, were from Bengal; it is also irrelevant that till date a bulk of the monks and all but 2 of 15 odd Presidents in the institution he founded shares his ethnicity [5]. As to Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, what evidence do we see of this greater resonance in the rest of India, or even in BJP, which is the continuation of the BJS party he founded? Within BJP, its Deendayal Upadhyay who is given primacy over Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. We quote Dr. R. Balashankar, Member, BJP Central Committee on Training, and Committee on Publications and Former Convenor BJP National Intellectual Cell and Former editor Organiser, “Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay has come to occupy the central place in political discourse ever since Narendra Modi government took office in May 2014. ….Deendayal has become the political brand equity for the BJP that Gandhi was for the Congress Party….Within the BJP there are many towering personalities like Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Dr Raghuvira, A B Vajpayee and many others who are held in very high esteem but no leader is revered as much as Deendayal’’ [15]. To honor Vallabhbhai Patel, a grand statue, which would be the tallest in the world, is being erected, named as the statue of unity. In the Modi regime, in 2014, the annual Union budget has provisioned 2 billion rupees for this statue [1]. We do not however find any such honor bestowed upon Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. Swarajya Magazine has however accorded him a magnificent resonance, that of awarding Kashmiri separatist Sajjad Lone in his name. So, Vallabhbhai Patel gets the statue of unity, while Shyama Prasad Mookerjee gets associated with a separatist of a state he sought to integrate with India, and was martyred in the process. Oh, and to our knowledge, neither Shyama Prasad Mookerjee nor Swami Vivekananda relinquished Bengal or their Bengali identities. This is exactly why such unsubstantiated claims of greater resonance are necessary to deny Bengalis of their cultural and historical legacy concerning the duo.

Let us continue with Mr. Viswanathan’s obsession with Bengal.


To be fair, this is one of the few instances which may be defended on the ground of immediate facts. He was pointing to a list of Indian academics who are allegedly guilty of sexual harassment. The list indeed has a preponderance of “savarna’’ (upper-caste) Bengali males [6]. We would rather not raise ethnic-supremacist quibbles such as whether Bengalis would be over-represented in any classification of academics simply because Bengalis may just be `over-represented’ in academia itself because perhaps they are incapable of pursuits more meaningful, such as trade, commerce, etc. We would stay away from the deeply parochial explanation that might venture to suggest that Bengalis may just be over-represented in the list as the student who created it, Raya Sarkar, is of Bengali origin, and may therefore naturally come across more incidents of alleged violations by Bengalis as she would be more familiar with institutes in Bengal and Bengali academics.

We contrast how OpIndia, a magazine that has been acquired by the Swarajya Group [7], called someone fascist because he connected an ethnicity, the Hindi heartland, to rape [8]. But then we do know that one becomes a “nationalist’’ through negative-generalizations on certain races – let us give them a name for ease of reference, the Bengalis – and a `fascist’ or a `disgusting bigot’ by doing similar generalizations on those higher in the peck-order – let us say, the Hindi heartland or Gujarat as the case may be. Contrast the above tweet with how Mr. Viswanathan abused a former Lt. General of the Indian Army for adversely commenting on the Gujarati ethnicity:

Someone as knowledgeable as the esteemed CEO of the Swarajya magazine might recall many examples in history as well as contemporary Indian society (eg, those we cited in the Introduction), where individuals with personal (eg, spousal) and professional connections to an ethnic or a religious group, had persecuted and demonstrated acute bias against the group. Yet, the spousal defense recurs whenever Mr. Viswanathan is accused of unwarranted ethnic generalization by members of the vile ethnicity:



We credit Mystikal for bringing the above tweet to our notice. It is interesting to point out that Mr. Vishwanathan feels a need to dehumanise the despised Bengalis by comparing them to a dog of Mr. Rahul Gandhi.

Then again, the Communist identifier is never enough to appropriately revile an un-named perpetual student who is at the receiving end of the CEO’s wrath, he needs the Bengali Upper-caste qualifier too:

To be fair one can not accuse Mr. Viswanathan of gender bias – he brings in the Bengali upper caste connection for both genders and equally pejoratively and in threads in which the original point had no race connotation:


Mr. Vishwanathan’s proclivity to invoke the Bengali ethnicity, without any relevance, is endemic in the BJP-RSS ecosystem, and not exactly limited to those who may have the spousal defense handy.

We had shown that the statutory CBFS appointee of the BJP—RSS government, namely Vivek Agnihotri, had falsely mentioned that all his critics were Bengalis, and also referred to one of the authors as a Bengali while seeking to counter our criticism of his false ethnic generalization [16]. In either case, his ethnicity was never made an issue of.
Similarly, a public intellectual well-known in the BJP-RSS space, Rajeev Srinivasan, had brought in “Bengali parochialism’’, when one of the authors of this article objected to the historical inaccuracies in his tweets on Subhas Chandra Bose. We reproduce the specifics from Mr. Srinivasan’s article [17], which we had rebutted in [18], [19]. He had referred to the author in question as follows in [17]:
“So, on balance, we need to deconstruct Bose carefully. In fact, to be cynical, I’d say that the principal value of Bose today is as a stick to beat the Nehruvian Stalinists with; the latter do have reason to be embarrassed. There are those who do not understand this, and indulge in absurd hero-worship. One possible reason is Bengali chauvinism. I was reminded of this when I had a brief Twitter argument with one Saswati Sarkar, a Bengali-American professor. Well, ‘argument’ is the wrong word, because she attacked me; I was polite, but she kept abusing me till I finally gave up in disgust. Sarkar’s contention was that I was ‘ignorant’ and ‘bigoted’. Ok, fine. She had written a very long essay on the Durga Puja where she quoted a few writings by Bose, and my crime was that I had not read it. But I did read it, and it did not change my mind.’’

As a point of fact, we had asked the author to read primary sources on Bose before arriving at conclusions on him, our articles on Durga Puja is certainly not a primary source on Bose, but reproduces some of the primary content that is in conflict with the contents of Mr. Srinivasan’s tweets:


In [19], we had objected to the invocation of the ethnicity as follows:

“Next, the author brings in the ethnicity of one in our team, none of us have discussed our ethnicities with him [nor was his ethnicity ever brought in in the twitter arguments he quotes], …..the bigger issue here is the attempt to delegitimize arguments that contest his position by bringing in identities. If a support of Bose’s position by one who shares his ethnicity, becomes ethnic chauvinism, it would be legitimate to contend that the author’s defense of Hindu interests, as he is supposed to have done in his blogs (based on tweets to us on him), is owing to Hindu supremacy or Hindu chauvinism, if he happens to be a Hindu which we have not sought to ascertain. Is his (now invalidated) concern that Bose has not reached out to South Indians also driven by the author’s ethnic identity, if that happens to be South Indian? What the author needs to note is that Bose appealed to Indians of all ethnicities, he had strong support among the masses throughout India, particularly in Bengal, Madras Presidency, Punjab, rural united provinces, and had influential detractors in each of the above (Gandhian wing of the Provincial Congresses in each of these as also wealthy businessmen). The activists of Mission Netaji who are seeking to do justice to his legacy by uncovering the truth of his disappearance comprise of diverse ethnicities.’’
It is therefore a pervasive psychosis in the BJP-RSS ecosystem, be it a statutory body member, or a public intellectual, or CEO of a media group, to try to delegitimize stands contrary to theirs by invoking Bengali identity whenever that applies. In other words, the identity itself is so reviled that it is enough to take precedence over the content. It is also a norm to cast as Bengali parochialism favourable discussions of eminent individuals who are Bengalis by other Bengalis, in effect, denying the Bengalis the legitimacy to counter distortions concerning their present or their past. The only good, or shall we say reasonable, nationalist Bengalis, are those who undermine all that Bengal stands for, by truth or by fiction. Thus, the ethnic identity of the Bengalis is pitted against their religious and national identities, the same choice is not however forced on members of ethnicities high up in the pecking order (again recall that PM Modi’s electoral campaign or appointment of fellow Gujaratis to August offices are never scrutinized from an ethnic lense). If this is not ethnic hatred, what is?
Section C: West Bengal renamed as East Bangladesh – what do you Bengalis have?

Let us move on to the Chief Strategy Officer of Swarajya, Rahul Roushan, who spearheads the OpIndia initiative. He had run a poll where he asked if West Bengal should be renamed as East Bangladesh:


We will leave aside the question as to whether it is mandatory for high office bearers of the Swarajya Group to brainstorm on alternate names for West Bengal, and whether the disagreement as to the suitability of `Waste Bengal’ vis a vis `East Bangladesh’ have been internally reconciled. Purely as a digression, since more than 500 tweeps voted to call West Bengal as East Bangladesh, we consulted the latest edition of our Atlas, to see if a Tsunami or a similar such natural disaster has moved West Bengal to the East of Bangladesh. It reassured us that West Bengal remains to the West of Bangladesh, but then the ecosystem is of course always right. Be that as it may, one wonders why the ecosystem is so keen to donate West Bengal to Bangladesh? Is it supposed to be a follow-up action of PM Modi who donated significant amount of land of West Bengal to Bangladesh through the Land Border Agreement? In the Land Boundary Agreement, which the BJP had opposed continuously from the 1950s till 2014, the Modi government donated 10,000 acres of West Bengal land to Bangladesh, created a virtual enclave in Kuchlibari and left an estimated 8-10 thousand Hindus behind in Bangladesh [9]. When we probed on Social Media, we were educated by the BJP-RSS base, that the eminent Mr. Roushan was only being sarcastic about the large number of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh who are currently residing in West Bengal. We pondered if then Assam ought to be called North or West Bangladesh, or even South Bangladesh per Mr. Roushan’s Atlas which lesser mortals do not have access to, as Assam perhaps has comparable or even greater per capita number of illegals from Bangladesh. But that question would perhaps be a sacrilege, arising only in the polluted mind of heretics, since Assam has become an integral part of BJP’s perception of India, by according electoral majority to the `nationalist’ party.

We move on to other pearls of wisdom from the twitter feed of Mr. Roushan:


In the above, Mr. Roushan is shaming Hindu Bengali victims of riots in Basirhat in 2017 for not measuring up to the heroic standards he expects of them, and judging all Hindu Bengalis for the pronouncements of those victims. Incidentally, an eminent Hindu Bengali who had called for exemplary punishment for the Basirhat teen whose post on Islam had sparked off the riot, is Babul Supriyo, BJP Union Minister [10]. Mr. Supriyo went to the extent that such teens bring disrepute to BJP, a party close to the Swarajya Group:


We do not see Mr. Supriyo’s name mentioned in Mr. Roushan’s tweet above. Once we pointed that out to him, thus spake Mr. Roushan:



Arun Shourie had once pointed out that whenever the Communist Party was confronted with unassailable facts, they would seek to get away through repeated denials and intemperate abuse [14]. But, let us put aside the BJP-RSS ecosystem’s proclivity to abuse, or emulate the Communists who they proclaim to despise, and their partisanship. Let us just ponder on how deep can the ethnic contempt be if one judges statements of hapless riot victims and pronounces a verdict on an entire ethnicity for the same? As we noted before, the ecosystem raises furore each time Congress ecosystem casts aspersion on PM Modi for his under-privileged beginnings, rightly accusing it of elitism. But, if it is abominable to abuse the underclass, so should it be to abuse an ethnicity as a whole, unless, BJP ecosystem has imbibed hook, line and sinker, the Communist doctrine that some classes are more sacrosanct than the other. We could have again pardoned them for trying to ape the Communists they hate, but then even the class-defense does not apply here, because the riot victims of Basirhat, as in most places, were mostly from the Bengali poor. Note the specific reference to a victim who lives in village in a home with tiled roofs – suggests that she is probably as poor as or poorer than an average `chai-wallah’ who the Congress is accused of ridiculing. But, then the Swarajya Group had pronounced Bengali poor and lower middle-class to be largely slothful, below-average, incompetent, of never putting in an iota of hard work, mostly engaging in illegal activities, and such likes. In other words, Bengalis, rich or poor, Bhadralok or underclass, are guilty by birth.

Let us also examine how heroic the OpIndia community is. Recently, TMC MP Derek O’ Brien referred to a founder of OpIndia, Rahul Raj, in Parliament, in an uncomplimentary manner. Subsequently, he wrote a face-book post, which we post verbatim:



In particular, he wrote: “ Today, I got a call from my mother. She does not know much about internet and she had no idea about what I was doing. But after knowing that my name was taken in the parliament and I was branded a criminal by an MP, she was deeply worried. She couldn’t sleep yesterday.
She asked me if this will impact my safety. Here, an MP had accused me of issuing death and rape threats.
I told her not to worry and that people were with me. I told her I have been offered free legal help by many. But, I have seen the dirty side of court cases. My father has lost a lot for a case related to our property.
I feel weak today. Thanks for your enormous support. It has strengthened me during such time. I am taking a break from social media, but I will be back.’’ [11]

So, the founder-member of OpIndia feels weak, and takes a break from social media, and refuses to avail of legal help fearing material loss – all because of verbal, not physical, violence against him. Yet, the all-in-all of the same site has the audacity and hypocrisy to judge poor riot victims, subjected to physical violence by Islamist mobs, and who have actually lost their property, not merely face the prospect of it. The distinction in this case is clearly in the races of the two individuals. That the distinction is predicated on the race distinction, at least in part, is being reinforced by the fact that OpIndia takes up cudgels against individuals who abuse the people of the Hindi-belt:


Let us now observe some of Mr. Roushan’s contempt for Bengali cuisine:


First, there has been a controversy about the place of origin of one of the culinary delights of India, Rasgolla, a traditional sweet made out of Indian cheese, Paneer. In most of India and outside, the Rasgolla would traditionally be associated with Bengal, but Odishans claim that it originated in Odisha. Being neighboring states, Bengal and Odissa share a lot of their history, cuisine, culture, language and festivals. It may be hard to decisively determine where exactly Rasgolla originated, as the food has been in vogue for a very long time, that is even when watertight political boundaries did not exist, and the respective languages were not in their current forms. It is quite possible that the food item simultaneously developed at multiple locations. So, the controversy is at best manufactured, and does not in the least affect how delicious the sweet really is. At best it ought to constitute a topic of casual and civil banter between locals of the two places, and if and when the controversy is resolved the winner is entitled to gloat in his region’s success, like at the end of a cricket or a soccer match between teams representing the two regions. For the sake of completeness, right now Rasgolla, either as a whole, or the Bengali version of it, has been accorded to Bengal, while Odissa has filed a claim for association with the Odissan version of it [20], [21].

There is however a deeper subtext to it, which is at the root of attempts in the ecosystem to disassociate all that is good from Bengal, which recurs across Mr. Viswanathan’s discourse on Swami Vivekananda and Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, and Mr. Roushan’s on Rasgolla. Mr. Roushan seems to be jubilant, even prematurely, that Bengalis no longer have Rasgolla. What is his stake in this controversy? Clearly, it is not truth, as the controversy was certainly not resolved in Odissa’s favour at that time. It is also not his pride in his own ethnic roots, as, to the best of our knowledge, he isn’t from either region. It is that Bengal has been denuded of yet another source of their pride, it is that, he can tell more confidently, “what do you Bengalis have?’’ And this attitude is typically reserved for a land that is not only alien, but also an enemy, or a people one has strong inferiority complex about.

We have shown that Governor Roy harbours deep resentment against Hindu Bengalis [16]. His comment on the history of Bengal stems from the same, and worse, reveals abject or even malafide ignorance of the history of Bengal. Renowned historian Ramesh Chandra Majumdar had edited a 700+ page entire book on the ancient history of Bengal, from B.C. to about 1200 AD, which constituted the period of the Hindu rule [22]. We may refer him to the book, if he deigns to read `Bengali’ historians, nay `chuha’ historians, who weren’t exactly well-off towards the end of their lives, and may never have had the good fortune of residing in plush Rajbhawans that more capable men like Mr. Roy does. For the time being, we might suggest a few names he can look up for the history of pre-10th century Bengal – Gangaridais (326-320 BC) pp. 41-46, [22]. , Sasanka (seventh century AD), pp. 59-68, [22], the Pala dynasty (eg, Dharmapala, 770-810 AD, Devapala 810-850 AD) pp. 104-122, [22]. Since the effort to look up the names suggested above might distract the Governor from his primary responsibility of abusing Bengal, we obtain the relevant information from the chuha’s book:

1) In the fourth century B.C. a kingdom covering Bengal was considered the greatest nation in India by Latin historians, together with another major kingdom which was located in today’s Bihar, they stopped the advent of Alexander further East. Note that the city-states in the North West of India could not unite against Alexander, and were taken down by him, sequentially. R. C. Majumdar has written, “A considerable portion of the country (Bengal) now (latter half of the fourth century B.C.)  constitutes the domain of a powerful nation, whose sway extended over the whole of ancient Vanga, and possibly some adjoining tracts. Greek and Latin writers refer to the people as the Gangaridai (variant Gandaridai)’’ p. 41, [22]. Contemporary Latin historian Diodorus has written that ``India ….is inhabited by very many nations among which the greatest of all is that of the Gandaridai, against whom Alexander did not undertake an expedition, being deterred by the multitude of their elephants.” p. 40, [22]. In the words of R. C. Majumdar, ``It is not easy to determine the precise boundary line between the Gangaridai proper and the people styled the Prasioi who had their capital at Pataliputra. The evidence of Ptolemy suggests that in his days, or in those of the writers on whom he relies, the kingdom, of which Pataliputra was the royal residence, apparently extended as far as the Ganges and may have included Tamralipti. The Gangaridai lay beyond this territory’’ p. 43, [22]. R. C. Majumdar goes on to assert that “It may be reasonably inferred from the statements of the Greek and Latin writers that about the time of Alexander’s invasion, the Gangaridai were a very powerful nation, and either formed a dual monarchy with the Prasioi, or were otherwise closely associated with them on equal terms in a common cause against the foreign invader. When Alexander reached the Beas and was eager to cross over to the Ganges valley, the information reached his ears that the king or kings of the Gangaridai and the Prasioi were awaiting his attack with a powerful army. The shock of the battle was narrowly missed. The war-worn veterans of the Macedonian king persuaded their leader to trace back his steps to the Hydaspes and ultimately to Babylon’’ p. 44, [22].
2) We now take the Governor to early seventh century A.D. We learn about king Sasanka from R. C. Majumdar, ``All that we definitely know is that some time before 606 A.D. Sasanka became the king of Gauda with his capital at Karnasuvarna, which has been identified with Rangamati, six miles south-west of Berhampore in the Murshidabad district (or Gauda or Lakhanawati)’’ p. 60, [22]. Sasanka had gradually extended his authority up to Benares, and fought military battles with king Rajyavardhana of Kannauj (current U.P.) and killed Rajyavardhana in 606 A.D. pp. 61, 62, [22]. Rajyavardhana’s brother Harshavardhana, allied with Bhaskaravarman ch. 7, [31], the king of Kamrup, presumably to counter their common enemy, Sasanka p. 64, [22]. But the extent of the success of the alliance against Sasanka appears to be limited. There is subsequent evidence that Harsha led a military campaign as far as the borders of Bengal, but returned without any military success. Sasanka was in possession of Magadha at the time of his death, which occurred shortly before 637-38 A.D. pp. 64-65, [22]. It also becomes clear that there existed an age-long duel between Gauda and Kannauj which had extended up to this time and longer p. 68, [22]. So Gauda was a famous kingdom, rivalling the strong state of Kannauj, for a long time, well-before the tenth century before which Bengal is supposed to have a limited history as per the esteemed Governor.

3) Let us now move on to the Palas who ruled from the eighth century up to and beyond the tenth century. R. C. Majumdar has written about their origin: “evidences make it almost certain that the home and the original kingdom of the Palas must be placed in Bengal.” p. 102, [22]. Dharmapala ascended the throne of Bengal in 770 A.D. Between 770 and 790 A.D. he conquered Magadha and a large part of U.P., even extending beyond Allahabad and the Ganges-Jumna Doab. Between 790 and 800 A.D. he led victorious campaigns up to the Indus on the West, Himalayas in the North and even beyond Narbada in the South p. 110, [22]. Next, Devapala ruled for at least 35 years and his reign may be placed between 810 and 850 A.D. Under him the Pala empire reached the height of its glory. His suzerainty was acknowledged over the whole of Northern India from Assam to the borders of Kashmir, and his victorious forces marched from the Indus to the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra, and from the Himalayas to the Vindhyas, perhaps even to the southernmost extremity of India. His name and fame were known far outside India, and king Balaputradeva of the Sailendra dynasty ruling in Java, Sumatra and Malay Peninsula sent an ambassador to him p. 121, [22].

Some of the above information had been pointed to him by one of the authors. The Governor was too busy to respond, we are of course very grateful that he didn’t deign to abuse us for the audacity of correcting him:



The exploits of the pre-10th century rulers of Bengal that we have provided should debunk the last tweet of the esteemed Governor. N ote that Rajeev Srinivasan had also sought to portray Subhas Chandra Bose negatively, employing gross distortions of history, as argued in [18, 19]. The fact that he brought up Bengali parochialism in this connection reveals that he was acutely conscious of Bose’s Bengali roots. It may not therefore be inaccurate to construe his article as yet another attempt to malign the historical legacy of Bengal through falsehoods. The proclivity to deny a people their historical heritage is another treatment commonly resorted to by hostile external entities and their local collaborators, a topic that we intend to dwell in depth in a future article.

Another recurrent thread that comes across from Mr. Roushan’s and the Governor’s discourse is to pit ethnicities in the East against one another, more specifically, the Odiyas against the Bengalis. We would later see that the Assamese are also often favourably compared with the Bengalis. It is however curious that neither the Odiyas, nor the Assamese, nor the Biharis ever compared, favourably or otherwise, with the ethnicities in the highest echelon, namely Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana etc. We will dwell on this trait in detail in a later article too, but for the moment, we will point out that seething discontent against the Bengalis among the middle-class of the neighboring states like Assam, Bihar, Odisha is neither new nor original contribution of the BJP-RSS ecosystem, British did exactly the same.

We had drawn attention of the editorial director of the Swarajya Group, R. Jagannathan, to the abominable racist tweets of Messers Viswanathan and Roushan, only to be completely ignored:


Section D: The Durgas and Kalis of the BJP-RSS ecosystem

Racist contempt is equally pronounced in some others affiliated to the Swarajya group. The owner of the handle @unsubtledesi for example writes frequently for OpIndia and is now officially affiliated with it. We reproduce one of her tweets below:

Bhadralok is an honorific in Bangla, its closest English translation is “gentleman.’’ Its currently used as a polite reference to educated men, typically from middle-class upwards., which includes a large section of Bengalis. It is not meant for intellectuals alone, which translates to `Buddhijibi’ (বুদ্ধিজীবি) in Bangla. Thus, here, while Amartya Sen is being ridiculed, his ethnicity is being drawn in through the reference to the honorific “Bhadralok’’ that only Bengalis use, and cowardice is being insinuated upon the ethnicity, or at least the middle-class and upper-class segment of the ethnicity, quite in line with Governor Tathagata Roy’s tweet accusing Hindu Bengalis of fleeing like rats [16]. That apart, her knowledge of history can only match that of her boss Mr. Roushan’s knowledge of geography. For her, and the likes of her from the BJP-RSS ecosystem, the Bengal revolutionaries must be `cute’ cowards by birth, because they were Bhadraloks after all – never mind the fact that they challenged the mighty British on their own terms, disrupted them so much that they had to relocate their capital to Delhi, and braved the consequences, which were death by hanging, or worse, lifelong torture in Cellular. Martial valor and heroism must of course be only assigned to the Rajputs or Gorkhas (currently high in favor ought to the Gorkhaland agitation against `Bengali colonialism’) or possibly the Punjabi Sikhs (somewhat out of favor post the Khalistani agitation). The fact that the British Indian Army that would be sent to subjugate revolutionary ventures and uprisings, would be largely populated by the aforementioned `martial races’ is of course an academic point, which should justifiably be confined to obscure books in some dusty library. The Bhadraloks also led and joined the Naxal movement in Bengal in the 60s and 70s. Even the worst enemies or their best friends would not accuse the Bengali Naxals of non-violence. The Indian state resorted to large-scale brutalities on Bengali civilians to crush them, which is only comparable to the force used on the Khalistani movement; in fact, the force used against the Islamist fundamentalists pales in comparison. More recently, it’s the BJP-RSS ecosystem that accuses, with some justifications, the Communists of Bengal, who in their assumption all originated from the Bhadralok group, of mass-violence. We fail to understand how the inability to hit, as insinuated, is consistent with such facts and accusations. Note that the character insinuated on the `Bhadralok’ by the tweep is neither new, nor original. Indeed, it closely matches, if not in literary merit, but in the racist stereotype imposed on the Bengalis by the English author, Rudyard Kipling, using the cowardly and pretentious character – Hurree Chunder Mukherjee, popularly called Hurree-Babu [32]. Thus, the Bengali identifier is used as a catch all phrase for a varied sort of vices, just as `Moorish blood’ was used in Spain [40].

On a side note, the tweep either has not interacted with many Bhadraloks, or is rather slow to pick up their language, for Bhadraloks in West Bengal use `aami mere debo kintoo’, but not `mere dibo’. But then Bhadraloks are quite forgiving of the linguistically challenged, and they better show such grace, since this tweep is quite close to a powerful cabinet minister of the current BJP government. Specifically, the Information and Broadcast Minister of PM Modi’s government, Ms. Smriti Irani, frequently plugs @unsubtledesi’s articles, and extensively socially interacts with her as well. The familiarity of the duo suggests close working relationships:



Since ministers have the machinery to vet their close circles, this reinforces our contention that public contempt of some ethnicities has blessings of, or at least is being condoned by, the highest echelons of BJP-RSS’ political leadership. None of the offenders named in this article have faced any visible backlash from the BJP-RSS base, nor any visible punitive measure from their Company bosses or BJP-RSS leadership. In fact, R. Jagannathan, editorial director of Swarajya, has offered @unsubtledesi high accolades, to the extent of comparing her with Hindu Shakti Goddesses, Durga and Kali. One might conjecture that the ecosystem deems Bengali Bhadraloks as asuras, so the women who slay them – read abuse them – would be the Durga and Kalis of the ecosystem.


When this tweet of Mr. Jagannathan was flagged by one of the authors, in view of the racist abuses she hurled earlier, he refused to respond, while his Durga/Kali, showered her blessings on us:


Section E: All ethnicities are equal, but some are more equal than the others
An ethnic peck order, between Bengal and Gujarat, is frequently reinforced by authors and public intellectuals of BJP-RSS persuasion, through vague pronouncements as in:


The tweet in question is so vague that its hard to interpret exactly, nonetheless, the negative connotation with Bengal and the positive one with Gujarat is clearly conveyed. We merely point out the serious factual flaws with the above contention. The first to be colonized were the town of Madras, bought by the English from the Raja of Chandragiri, and the island of Bombay, given to the English by the Portuguese as part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza, on her wedding to the then King of England, Charles II in 1662. The first major area to be colonized was Carnatic, comprising of today’s Tamizh Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, which was in fact used by the British as the base to simultaneously conquer Bengal and Bihar. Gujarat was also not the last to be colonized by the British either – that honor goes to North West Frontier Province, Punjab (Sindh fell slightly before Punjab). But, for the ecosystem, all good things come from Gujarat, bad things from Bengal, facts be damned. We find the clarification equally tenuous, as economic devastation due to colonisation was as severe in South India and Vidarbha (largest famine recorded in the history of India affected the South and Central India). Given the factual flaws, this tweet also constitutes an example of distortion of history to portray an enemy territory in poor light.

Wonder if this bias against ethnicities arises because the BJP-RSS ecosystem and political leadership perceives some ethnicities as less loyal than others to the Indian state? We quote Dr. Gautam Sen, former faculty member of the London School of Economics and Political Science, and current President of the World Association of Hindu Academicians and Co-director of the Dharmic Ideas and Policy Foundation, who wrote ``Such an eventuality [fall of the Modi-government] would surely lead a Pak threat, likely to be opportunistically supported by China, allowing J&K and the Punjab to secede. In the worst case scenario, the loyalty of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu to the Indian Union could not be taken for granted’’ [13].

Thus, lack of patriotism is imposed on the Bengalis, just as it is on the Jews of Eastern Europe [34], [36], even when the Jews are long gone [38]. Serious secessionist movements never existed in West Bengal, nor for that matter in Tamil Nadu and the Khalistani secessionist movement in Punjab had long been devoid of any considerable public support there. It is equally interesting that Prof. Sen discounted the serious separatist movements of the North-East in his analysis of the regions at risk, but it is likely that these regions do not exist in his nationalistic atlas at all. Anyway, such inconvenient facts count little against long standing hostile perceptions.

Section F: Conclusion

In an earlier version of the article, we had noted that Niti Ayog Chairman and Economic Advisory Board Chairman, Bibek Debroy, is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Swarajya Magazine. We were relying on the website of the Swarajya Group. Subsequently, Mr. Debroy has corrected us, we reproduce the correspondence verbatim:





[6] How Leftists Come Together to Save One of their Own Accused of Sexual Harassment
[7] Opindia is now part of Swarajya Group
[8] Gurmehar Kaur’s Mentor Shows Fascist Color, Abuses People from UP and Bihar
[9] Shanmukh, Saswati Sarkar, and Dikgaj,“Examining the Indo-Bangla Land Boundary Agreement’’,
[13] Gautam Sen, “Narendra Modi Stands between India’s Breakup’’
[14] Arun Shourie, “The Only Fatherland’’


[17] Rajeev Srinivasan The abuse of Indian history: Obsession over Subhas Chandra Bose indicates that India suffers from a paucity of heroes





[22] The History of Bengal, Vol. 1, The Hindu Period, edited by R. C. Majumdar


[24] RC Majumdar, “History and Culture of the Indian People’’, Vol. 7, Mughal Empire.


[26] Robert Conquest, “The Great Terror: A Reassessment’’


[28] Pavel Polyan “Не по своей воле’’



[31] Banabhatta, “Harshacharita’’

[32] Rudyard Kipling, “Kim’’