Historian Ramchandra Guha, who now seems to have developed complicated relationship with history, today took to Twitter to claim Philip Spratt in 1939 had written that Gujarat, though economically advanced is backward culturally and Bengal while being economically backward, has been culturally advanced.
“Gujarat, though economically advanced, is culturally a backward province… . Bengal in contrast is economically backward but culturally advanced”.— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) June 11, 2020
Philip Spratt, writing in 1939.
Guha had not provided citation source for the above quote and OpIndia could not independently verify whether Spratt wrote such a statement back in 1939. Spratt was a British communist sent to spread communism in India. He was the founding member of the Communist Party of India.
Guha cites Spratt’s 1939 quote where he claims that Gujarat, even though economically advanced was culturally a ‘backward’ province and compared to that, Bengal, though ‘economically backward’, was ‘culturally advanced’.
Gujarat as a state came into existence in 1960. In fact, part of what exists today as Gujarat was known as ‘Bombay Presidency’ and remaining were princely states like Baroda state, Kathiawar and Kutch.
And prior to that, Gujarat fell under the Delhi Sultanate in 1298 after Alauddin Khilji managed to invade the state. Perhaps the approximate 350 year of rule by the Mughal invaders left Gujarat ‘culturally backward’ as described by Guha citing Spratt.
Netizens pointed out the flaw in Guha’s comparison and the random quote by Spratt, which many had never even heard of before.
Gujaratis also explained how Gujarat has managed to survive and thrive despite the drawbacks it has had since centuries regarding water shortage and not being blessed with as much fertile land as other parts of the country.
You talk as if Philip Spratt was your grandmother who was the authority on India or Gujarat or Bengal…. Only 3rd rate idiots have to depend on some foreign chameli quotes (that too some vague Spratt Vatt) for their stupid survival @Ram_Guha… https://t.co/MDLe0qBcLv— RaviMC (@RMCpost) June 11, 2020
People also pointed out the flaw in his argument. Gujarat does not have a strong communist presence because of the generally enterprising nature of people of the state.
@Ram_Guha #Gujarat— Chhayank Mehta (@chhayank) June 11, 2020
> faces acute water shortage but never caused riots
> one of d most industrialised states, but no strikes
> Despite being border state, no app
> Got nothing on separation from Bombay state, still created a mark
Tum Kis culture ki baat kar rahe ho? https://t.co/BAEsdFSfrA
Lothal and Dholavira in Gujarat are proofs that Gujarat had been an important port of ancient India. Since time immemorial Gujarat has learnt to work to survive. If that makes the ‘culture’ backward, then so be it. Many also wondered if Guha through Mahatma Gandhi, who is considered Father of the Nation and was a Gujarati too, was culturally backward.
Gujaratis didn’t allow commie agenda propagate so their culture is backward.. https://t.co/Y5gXR6gX9y— Ekita (@LostByWaves) June 11, 2020
Bengalis, too, were offended by the tweet who asked him to stop romanticising how communism has ruined Bengal and there are severe lack of job opportunities there.
Never thought that Mr. Guha would call Sri MK Gandhi culturally backward. https://t.co/BkTepdkRrp— Raghavendra HS (@hsraghav) June 11, 2020
STOP this romanticizing of lack of jobs and economic opportunities in Bengal. https://t.co/k2GVWQpc9H— Arup Roychoudhury (@aruproytweets) June 11, 2020
Moreover, prior to independence, Bengal was a vast territory which comprised the modern day Bangladesh and West Bengal. It was historically rich on account of the existence of artisans and craftsmen whose hand-woven products were sought after across the world. When the British started cotton export from India, they faced tough headwinds from the products sold by the artisans from Bengal. To stop the bengal artisans from selling their produce, Britishers spliced thumbs of artisans, killed the dissidents, thereby economically depriving a vast section of population. Bengal was a bustling trade hub and it is one of the reasons why the East Company India was headquartered there and the Brits started their imperial conquest of India from there. The Britishers persecuted by splitting their thumbs, killing those who opposed their draconian taxes. This is what Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said in his book “An Era of Darkness”
This hatred for Gujaratis has peaked ever since Prime Minister Modi took oath back in 2014 after registering a historic win. Gujaratis are mocked at on social media and ridiculed. Not just by Guha but even by those who like to identify themselves as liberals and ‘culturally strong’.
TMC supporter Garga Chatterjee has regularly indulged in mocking Gujaratis, Biharis and Marwaris under the garb of Bengali pride. Similarly, ‘journalist’ Swati Chaturvedi has also referred to PM Modi and HM Shah as ‘dhokla mafia’ because casual racism isn’t racism if it comes from the ‘culturally advanced’ and ‘liberal’ lot.