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The Rhetoric goes on….

When I was kid of 7 years, my father took me to a temple. We were carrying incense sticks and other offerings and I felt proud to get “gifts” for the God. When I said that to my father, he immediately retorted back saying, “everything belongs to God and you cannot ‘gift’ something that already belongs to Him.” This story came to my mind when I was reading the newspaper today in the morning.

Curzon’s (who happened to be the Governor-general and Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905) grandchild is visiting India now to celebrate the hundred years of Kaziranga forest sanctuary in Assam. Immediately after landing in India, he gave a call to reassess Curzon’s administrative acumen and his far-sightedness as a politician. He talked in glorious terms about his grandfather’s achievements (among which he thinks partition of Bengal is one) and pointed out how Kaziranga Sanctuary was a parting gift to the Indians from his grandfather1 . The coverage of his talk in Anandabazar Patrika, a prominent Bengali newspaper in Calcutta, reeks of the same colonial rhetoric that justifies the wrongdoings irrespective of time and national boundary. Who can tell this man that you cannot gift something to the nation what already, rightfully belongs to her?

In fact, I fail to understand why it is so necessary to call someone and “wine and dine” him on State Exchequer’s money when that person has nothing to contribute to our country and our people. Our obsession with the white skin is a legacy that we still carry from the British. Curzon’s grandchild is actually quite true in quipping that his grandfather had far-sightedness. He had indeed imbibed the fascination for fairer skin color in the Indian psyche that is still prevalent in Indian thinking. That is why even our newspaper gives front-page coverage to somebody “non-significant” (note, that I am not saying he is insignificant) for the country. Still today, the colonial rhetoric is unmistakable. On the contrary, Margaret Thatcher when recently asked about Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles’ marriage has commented, “We have slightly more important things to talk about .”2 (I have deliberately used Thatcher’s quote to show how we can sieve the good from the bad). I hope our press learns from her – about what is important in our national life and what should be covered in the front-page of a popular daily. Unless and until we change our mentality, the rhetoric will continue…

1. Dutta, Milan. “Curzon er shothik” Bengali Article. 11 Feb 2005. Calcutta.

2. Quote of the Day. Telegraph India. 11 Feb 2005. (


--Kumar Sankar Bhattacharya (Bhattacharya is pursuing a doctorate in English at Drew University, New Jersey)








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