The first ethic in writing a newspaper article is, verifying the facts, upon which he will process his point of contention. As Pijush Sarkar in his poem Putuler Dyash says “chale kolomo bonduk hoya phutibe”. Although in a different context, his words capture the deadening force of words.
In an article by Mr. Pranpratim Pal in Uttar Banga Sambad, dated 4th of January 2017 he writes about the plight of Rajbangshi Bhasha Academy. He has rightly expressed the debacles which it must overcome to perform actively, both internal and political. Internal as the members are not adequate or the lack of a permanent editor. Political as economic autonomy is still not at hand, owing to its’ dependence on state government funds and a long harrowing process to attain the adequate budget. In fact, he justifies the fact by quoting Academy’s Chairman, Bijay Chandra Barman about the general scenario and problems.
Where he makes a blunder is in giving a disgracing wrong count of books and articles published “2000 books and 1500 articles”. Did he slyly put in the extra zeros or is it a complete wrong information or a wrong informer? Outraged, Dr. Nikhlesh Ray, professor of North Bengal University remarked, “It will take a man nearly 30 years to publish 3000 books or so.” Whatever be the case, publishing 2000 books in a mere span of 3 to 4 years of active work with dwindling members or no permanent editor is an over-zealous work which only a Faustian hand can accomplish. Secondly, he has contested his own remark; the Academy having no permanent editor and later adding that it is Mr. Prabalkanti Ghosh, shouldered with the editors’ responsibility. Another scrupulous mistake he laurelled himself with; Mr. Prabalkanti Ghosh is a secretary member of the Academy.
No mistake is unpardonable. However grievous that might be, a heart willing to understand is necessary. Simultaneously the hand willing to delay before they print words in haste and trust their fancy is also to be exercised.
The reaction to this article in a Facebook post was heated, and why not? When there is an objective truth presented, about the 2000 books being published and the reality of only three books surfacing out of printing machines, almost singlehandedly edited by Dr. Nikhilesh Ray, what else can one experience? One is vacillating between truth and representation of truth. There is no re-coursing anyone to political correctness, as to how one should react or comment, but simply an observation as to how people concerned, without any verification or assessment are swayed by emotion. The phenomena, for which Oxford Dictionary has a new word “post-truth”.
SOME RANDOM COMMENTS FROM THE FACEBOOK POST
- “I have not seen more than 3 books”
- “They want to fool us.”
- “We should arrange for some search operation to look for 2000 books.”
- “They think Rajbangshis are still blind.”
- “Creating the academy is Government’s vote bank policy only.”
Firstly, when 3 books are published, no eye can grant one the vision to see a fourth or a fifth, again it is up to your feasting imagination which will construct a barrage of books flooding out of an Academy, which deals with an endangered language, with as many as 10 dialects in North Bengal itself, diverse in its terminology, and few hands to grant the language a papyrus. Secondly, the amount of skepticism that is prevalent in our community is so much discernable. Suspicion and skepticism are democracy’ health keeper, for sure, but suspicion burgeoning from a single newspaper article which ends up in disillusionment and contempt is not reasonable. Suspicions should help process the work along with defacing it. This very pessimism has always covered the skies of Rajbangshis. Vote Bank policy or political maneuvering is as natural as the biological politics of XX and XY chromosomes; power present is power political. Should we then shrug off skepticism? No. But harnessing your sentimental or emotional responses to the political policies is also not healthy; it is an act of transferring responsibility. Someone in the comment rightly said “We have to do something about it” About what, he is seemingly open-ended. Nevertheless, he is correct in redirecting the finger at us. How many of them has kept a note of or plunged into the memory to count the number of events that the Bhasha Academy has undertaken successfully? None, only throngs of crowd to over-sympathize the malignant past and grief the loss of time.
Blind, we still are. Blind to what we have gained. I will not count them, for I want the means to fool the skeptic and the emotionally charged. Blind also to our own shortcomings, blind to the stupidity of our discourse and deriving pleasure out of that very blindness.
Nearly six to seven months back, a short story was episodically being published by Uttar Banga Sambad “Pattan” which painted a Rajbangshi character eating stale and rotten food, dressing him in “lengti” (a loincloth worn by Rajbangshi men, now obscure). This was cultural condescending and robbing off our civilized identity; a general conscientious which ultimately led to a social uprising on and off the internet. Whether the grounds of accusation were viable or whether the writer is biased in his representation or true to his imaginative faculty, it is debatable. But what followed is faith, for all agreed no human has ever been spared of some savage deed or to that matter untainted by brute forces within and of which we still are capable of. (The writer’s patronizing cultural gaze was the main issue here). This faith resulted in a massive onslaught against the writer. Inevitably he had thrown invectives on every Rajbangshi body and hence every-body pursued indignation.
For this article howsoever, Rajbangshis were divided into “they” and “us”. “They” are the “other”. Any institute or academy which is functioning under the government is an evil twin of that sinister body. A faith which cannot be absolved so easily. It is in tune with the evolutionary instinct of survival and particularly a generated instinct out of everyday experience. Hence this unforgiving isolation and division. If Rajbangshi Academy has published less, it is because we as the speakers of this language have not done enough to direct our thoughts into the pen.
Social media as a mediator can help release your expressions and emotions and feed you with knowledge, with just a click. A click can lead to mobilization. Particularly for the Rajbangshi community, the internet has become the veritable God, the messenger of brotherhood and cultural uprising.To which the digital community of worshippers pay homage every second from all parts of South-East Asia and the world. Realizing its potency, its thunder arm, how can you not be judicious enough to devote your sincere words which will touch the satellites in some Exosphere and shower in every eye that prays to this God?
We are all in a state of foolery and will always remain, as individuals pitted against false belief, resistance and lies. And is not being a fool, a prelude to wisdom, for who was wise without being a fool?
-NABANITA ROY (NOYA)