Monday, 30th October 2017

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Please understand actual Hinduism: Amiya Bagchi

People born in India are Indians: Economist

By Debraj Mitra in Calcutta
  • Published 29.01.20, 2:37 AM
  • Updated 29.01.20, 2:37 AM
  • 2 mins read
Amiya Bagchi speaks at the New Market sit-in on Tuesday Telegraph picture

Economist, historian and social scientist Amiya Bagchi, 84, walked down memory lane on Tuesday to distinguish between “actual Hinduism” and the “version preached by the RSS”.

“The version of Hinduism being preached by the RSS brigade has nothing to do with the kind of Hinduism I grew up around. My father was a devout Brahmin. But he welcomed all my friends — not for once asking about their religion, cast or creed — at our home. That is actual Hinduism. Please understand that,” he told an audience of a several hundred, demonstrating against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at Chaplin Square near New Market.

“People born in India are Indians. Under no circumstances should they be asked for papers,” he said.

Bagchi is a former Reserve Bank of India professor at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, and the founder-director of Institute of Development Studies Kolkata.

The octogenarian took to the dais in the evening, helped by a man.

Bagchi was born and raised in Jadupur, a village in Murshidabad, around 12km from Behrampore. “I have grown up in Murshidabad. In my neighbourhood, the Durga idol was taken till the doors of the masjid and the Muharram tazia went up to the thakurbari,” he said.

“The nawab of Murshidabad, Wasif Ali Mirza, headed the local peace committee during the 1926-27 riots. He had clearly stated that there would be no riots in Murshidabad. There was none.”

The protesters broke into a loud applause as Bagchi spoke.

The Trinity College-educated Wasif Ali Mirza was the nawab of Murshidabad from 1906 to 1959. “He expelled his son for joining the Muslim League, which he thought was divisive,” Bagchi said.

In April 2019, while speaking on rising intolerance in the country, he had told The Telegraph in an interview: “No, I have not experienced such intolerance before; it is sweeping, incipient as well as expressive.”

On Tuesday night, he told Metro: “The situation has worsened, most certainly, because of the citizenship drive.”

On the New Market dais, he stressed the culture of common people and great men.

“That was the culture when I grew up, the culture of common people I grew up with. Added to this was the culture of great men, the likes of Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam,” Bagchi said. The crowd broke into another round of applause.

The people he addressed have stayed put near New Market since January 21, a day before the Supreme Court took up a batch of petitions against the CAA.

A rally by the Joint Forum Against NRC from Moulali, attended by more than 13,000 people, culminated near New Market. The Joint Forum Against NRC is one of the petitioners in the case.