Ten years back during the mandatory language test for an IAS officer,P B Salim,a West Bengal cadre officer who is from Kerala,was asked by his examiners to write the name of Rabindranath Tagore in Bengali. And to the pleasant surprise of his examiners,Salim wrote Rabindranath Thakur – the way a Bengali person writes it.
He not only cleared the test but snagged laurels from his teachers.
But that was just the beginning for the bright 2001-batch officer,who was a biotechnologist before he joined the profession. Salim,who joined the service at the age of 25,delved deep into Bengali literature,culture and tradition and at present has embarked on a literary journey that will highlight the similarities between the cultures and lifestyles of the Bengalis and Malayalis in various fields.
I have seen the people and society of both the states from close proximity and I have noticed that from physical features,people often think I am a Bengali,to food habits,clothing to life style to culture,social and political movements,Bengalis and Malayalis have striking similarities and I am writing a book on this, Salim,now district magistrate,Nadia,told The Sunday Express.
The officer,who is from Muvattupuzha of Ernakulam district of Kerala,has already started his research on the project,reading books and magazines and consulting experts. He has drawn inspiration from people from Kerala like P T Nayar,eminent historian on Kolkata,Bikraman Nayar,novelist,who made Kolkata their homes and contributed a lot to the Bengals culture.
However,writing books is not anything new to this officer who has worked both in Kerala,as collector of Kozhikode district,and in Bengal. He has already written books on the history and culture of Malabar in Kerala,called Malabar- Pathrukavaum Prathapavum. He penned it jointly with Hafis Mohammed,head of the department of sociology at Farooq College,Calicut and M C Vasisht,head of the department of history of Malabar Christian College.
Salim is now planning to bring out the book published by Mathrubhumi Publications of Kerala,in English. There is a conception that secularism is a foreign idea but the fact is it has been in vogue in the Malabar region since 1000 AD after the Arabs came there. The naval chief of the Zamorines,the rulers of Calicut,designated Kunjali Maraikar,who was a Muslim. The two communities lived in total harmony in that state as you witness in Bengal also which also shows the best of the traditions of communal harmony, said the bright and upright officer who initiated projects for the social and economic uplift of the people of Kozhikode when he was there.
Apart from the history of Malabar,Salim who studied in Nirmala college from Muvattupuzzha and also in Delhi university,wrote a book called 101 Vijayagathakal,which too was published by Mathrubhumi Publications. There he wrote about people who excelled in the field of agriculture,even though they were from other walks of life.