Didi, Bhatt for pluralism as basis of Indian unity

| | Kolkata
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Didi, Bhatt for pluralism as basis of Indian unity

Saturday, 09 November 2019 | Saugar Sengupta | Kolkata

Days after objecting to Centre’s decision to unanimously make Gujarati an optional in Joint Entrance Main Examination, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday advocated pluralism in Indian culture saying only plurality of culture could ensure unity.

Speaking at the inauguration of 25th Kolkata International Film Festival Banerjee supported film-maker Mahesh Bhatt's statement saying she too felt that the country could not be reduced to “just onecolour” and made an appeal to celebrate the plurasitic character of the nation.

Endorsing the film maker she said “I fully support Mahesh Bhatt ji who is an outspoken person — perhaps more outspoken than me. He is right when he talks of a pluralistic society which must be preserved.”

“Bengal and Bengali films never promote negativism. We are always for positive ideas,” Banerjee said reminding that the State’s positive traits have provided the country with highest number of Nobel Laureates, scientists and most number of award-winning films. “This is the reason why Kolkata remains the cultural capital of India,” she said vowing to “live with our heads held high without submitting” to any kind of negativism.

“Let 2019 bring something new in all our lives. Let us think with unity. Let us speak with unity. Let us see with unity. Let us stay with unity and let us believe in unity. Unity is the strength and divide is the fall,” Mamata said in her speech.

Earlier Bhatt referred to a Chinese mystical bird which has one eye and one wing and is incomplete till it meets the other half to complete it. “It is only when they come together that they can fly and see,” he said giving a call to make stories that should bind instead of questioning each others’ individuality.

Let pluralism should survive in the land of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda, he said reminding how the two Chinese birds with one wings and eyes each could fly and see after coming together. Drawing a parallel he said “this happened to us in Hindi cinema when Bengal came to us with its wisdom and sensitivity that we in Mumbai bloomed.

“Let this stream grow more intense so that we as a nation can bring out all the colours because we cannot reduce the narrative of India into only one colour. It is a diverse country and we need to celebrate the plurality.”

On the idea of unity he said “In these changing, shifting times, I believe that the film-makers and storytellers will hold the world together. It is the occasion to realise that one of us is much lesser than all of us,” he added.

Before the Chief Minister vehemently backed Bhatt on a pluralist society she had on Thursday questioned the National Testing Agency’s (NTA) decision to make only Gujarati optional for the JEE (Main)exams.

Insisting that such act would amount to favouring Gujarat over the other States and languages she said “not only Bengali, there is a discriminatory attitude towards all languages except one or two.”

The ruling Trinamool Congress had called for bringing out protest marches all over the State on Monday. “If the Central Government is taking such a decision, they should have asked all the State Governments … They should have informed the State Governments, asked them to send it (a proposal for including regional languages for writing the test) in writing,” she said.

Cut to the Kolkata International Film Festival which coincides with the celebration of a hundred years of Bengali cinema: The inaugural ceremony was attended amongst others by Shahrukh Khan, BCCI presidentand former Indian captain Sourav Ganguli, Rakhi Gulzar, Gautam Ghoshand others. Germany is the Theme country in this year’s KIFF.

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