This article appeared in the policy magazine Badgati.
Chinese foreign policy strategy to break up India was laid bare recently in an article by one of the country’s foremost defense experts [Link], whose writings reveal him to be in the same class as the venerable ex-Jihadi Hamid, Pakistan’s No 1 public intellectual . However what has gathered the most interest in Indian policy circles is the startling revelation of a plot that many people have suspected for long.
Namely Chinese intelligence attempts to trigger a separatist movement in West Bengal.
Creation of at least another free Bengali nation state as a friendly neighbour of Bangladesh, would be desirable, for the purpose of weakening India’s expansion and threat aimed at forming a ‘unified South Asia’.
Yes. A free Bengali nation. It is indeed a measure of the sagacity of the said Chinese foreign policy expert that he has such amazing insight into Indian geopolitics.
For one, Bengalis have, over the ages, bristled at their consistent marginalization in the national scheme of things ever since the reign of Emperor Sasanka (or as he used to be called Soshi-da). They have seen Bangali greats been made to step down for “other” Indians. Pranab Mukherjee for Rajiv Gandhi in 1984. Sambaran Banerjee for Chandrakant Pandit. Jyoti Basu for Deve Gowda. Kedar Bhattacharya for Kumar Sanu for Sonu Nigam. And finally if Punjab had its Operation Bluestar, then Bengal also had its last straw on the camel’s back, namely the “dropping of Dada”, an event that brought Bangalis out onto the road, paralyzing all life in the state in the Behala area. Mahisashur, the evil rakshasa, was cast in the mould of Greg Chappell and cries of Rahul Dravid hai hai rent the air as unrest and discord ran high including the production of the revolutionary clarion call for insurrection, the soaking -in-parochial-bile “Bonguly” (original audio was provided to me by this man) (a must listen if you have not heard it)—a series of events no doubt noted by the pundit from China.
Second Bengal and China have shared a close bond of affection for many years, making it that much easy for Chinese spooks (the Hyena from China to quote from “Sonar Kella”) to move nuclear “fish-ile” material into fish-loving Bengal for starting armed struggle. This close relationship is primarily gastronomic—for decades the Bangali middle class family’s first choice destination for international cuisine was “Chinese”. Which for the Bangali meant fried rice and chilli chicken. And of course the mega popular “chow men” , soaked in all the oil from Arabia and doused in tomato ketchup, stirred in gigantic pans on street sides with a tempting sizzle-sizzle, garnished with small specks of meat of doubtful provenance and sold along side egg rolls, chicken rolls, mutton rolls and the hybrid “egg mutton” rolls. Centered in a place called Tengda, there has always been an active Chinese community in Kolkata and though their numbers have dwindled markedly and though many of the Chinese restaurants in the city have been taken over by local Bengalis with the chef who prepares American Chop Suey likely to be the pot-bellied Kanai-da who used to make rosogollas in his last job, China still exerts a great influence in Bengal. After all this is the state which has had a communist party in power for more than three decades, a party which came from a mother-ship where some Indians had supported China in their war against India and where people still love to pop Cheena badam or “The nuts of Chinese” into their mouths, even though they cause much gas later on.
If any further proof of this brotherhood is needed, one only has to see the movie “Neel Akashar Neeche”, directed as a love poem by Mrinal Sen for China, where Kali Banerjee played the role of the “Cheena silk” selling “Cheenaman”, looking as authentically Chinese as possible (as authentic as if Sanjay Dutt plays the role of a sixteen-year old Romanian ballerina) whose “Me no foreign me Cheenaman” appropriately captured the status of Chinese people in the state of Bengal (some critics say that this syrupy movie actually started the Indo-China war).
Of course getting Bengal to separate from India has its challenges. After all this is not the revolutionary Bengal of Binoy, Badal, Dinesh, Masterda, Pritilata Wahededar and Matangini Hajra. Revolution has to be launched on Monday and has to be finished by 3 pm on Friday evening so that the babus can take the early train home. And nothing more deadly than the burning of a few decrepit state buses, lying down on railway tracks, delivering speeches on footpaths standing in the shade, drinking tea from earthen cups, and sleeping in the afternoon in “sando genji” (banyan) should be attempted. [Some may claim that not much more might be needed as the rest of India would not mind losing Bengal or perhaps will not even notice. But since we do not know for sure, further speculation on these lines would be unwarranted]
However if any country can actually get Bengal to move its gigantic ass and do something significant like declare its independence from India it has to be China, efficient enough to sell low-grade medicine in Africa putting “Made in India” stickers on it [Me no foreign me Cheenaman], lead-laden toys all around the world and supply nuclear material to Pakistan.
In conclusion, should the rest of India fear Chinese plans to disintegrate our country? I don’t know but as long as it keeps producing informed “experts” like the one whose ruminations have gotten so much press, Indians need not worry. At all.