Then, it was a Little Calcutta in Delhi. Now, it hopes to return favours, becoming a Little Delhi in Calcutta.
Karolbagh Bangiya Samsad (KBS), one of the more prominent Bangali organisations in the capital, is preparing to strike roots in Calcutta. After working for exactly 45 years in Delhi, helping Bengalis with their education, health and cultural concerns, and, when the need arose, finding accommodation for newcomers, this organisation is formally inventing itself in the city in a few days.
“The organisation has been in Delhi for quite some time and, in the past 45 years, has helped many young (and nervous) Bengali newcomers in the capital in various ways,” vice-chairman of the Calcutta chapter Sukhen Sengupta said. “But, with many one-time KBS members and patrons now coming back to the city of their birth after winding up their careers in the capital, we felt that we could give back something to the city in which most of us were born,” added Gautam Roy, explaining the motivation behind the move. Roy has returned to Calcutta himself after years in Delhi.
KBS was established in Delhi on December 28, 1958, at a time when the capital was, gradually, becoming a new home for more and more Bengalis. Some were journalists, some had government jobs, some were in the judiciary but despite their different professions, they shared a passion for everything Bengali. That catalysed the birth of the Samsad, members here said.
“The core group of a few dozen Calcutta chapter founder-members is drawn from the organisation’s original base in Delhi,” Roy said on Sunday. “All of them (one important name is CPM parliamentarian Somnath Chatterjee) will automatically become members of the Calcutta chapter,” Sengupta confirmed, adding that the networking to get everyone on a common dais next Sunday had already started.
“Letters, phone-calls, e-mails — anything goes,” he said, adding that the response to date had been “tremendous”. “Everyone we are contacting is telling us the Calcutta chapter must carry on the good works done by the mother organisation,” he added.
There have been plenty of good works in Delhi. From a school that gives subsidised education and teaches Bengali as a subject (many Bengalis in the capital, who work as rickshaw-pullers or jewellers, cannot afford the more expensive private schools) to free classes to teach sewing, from a separate cultural wing to a guest house for Bengalis (with, of course, Bengali food on the menu), the organisation has done everything to help Bengalis in Delhi.
The KBS has tied up with a voluntary organisation that is active in Nadia and will ‘adopt’ three villages near Ranaghat.