Monday, 20 October, 2008

Jai Hind Or Jai Maharashtra...

I am disturbed and furious to see that there is no significant reaction to his deeds. It’s reasonable that the politicians (govt), the police and the law haven’t reacted. But why don’t the people show some protest? And why is the bigmouthed media tight-lipped currently? Of course the media shows live news about the actions of his followers (read party workers), but it has kept mum in exposing the true motive behind these actions. Is it apprehensive about the consequences? Has the press lost its freedom to these hooligans?

Are we living in a perfect world to create unwarranted problems for ourselves? Aren’t we already struggling to exist? How can we combat larger issues like terrorism if we have differences among ourselves? How can we unite if we fight for petty issues of regionalism and language? In fact, I won’t even consider them as issues.

Where is the issue? Over the last 6 months, there has not been a significant change in the way Mumbaikars are leading their lives. Then why has one man suddenly started finding faults in Mumbai in the past 6 months? Why is he using violence, beating up people, destroying public property and disturbing law and order? Who is he to decide about the authentic inhabitants of Mumbai? Who is he to ask someone to apologize for speaking the national language in the free, secular, democratic India? Why isn’t he jailed for distinguishing among Indians?

Well, here is the simple answer which many of us know: He is making hype out of nothing just to capitalize on the Marathi vote bank. Now, there are 2 sub-questions to this statement. Does the Marathi vote bank realize this political intent? If so, do they approve it?

Ideally, they should be aware of the policy because it’s an old trick used in the past by another party to gain popularity. And if they understand it, logically they should not approve it. But it doesn’t seem to happen! I have spoken to educated people who support this man for several reasons. I know people who support him because they are unemployed and feel that this man could help them get a job. There are others who support him just because he is aggressive and influential. There are still others who support him because they feel that the local trains are too crowded and his actions could help generate some free space in the trains. There are several other reasons like these, which have helped him gain immense fan following among youth in all parts of Maharashtra and some parts of India. Have you observed his followers when they are in action (beating up some innocent guy or destroying public property) and aired on TV? Most of them look like criminals, drunkards or mentally unstable people.

Do you think that Mumbai would have been what it is without the cosmopolitan population in it? Don’t you think that Mumbai is known for its fast paced life because it has the most efficient people doing the right jobs? Why cities like Kolhapur, Nagpur, Aurangabad and even Pune are considered sluggish? Why other major cities in India with less cosmopolitan population are considered slow-moving as compared Mumbai? Will Mumbai be able to survive without outsiders? Is it right to label these people who have been staying in Mumbai for decades as Outsiders?

We all know about the way developed countries have reacted to outsourcing. While the citizens of the developed countries protest about their lost jobs, We Indians argue that it’s a flat world. We talk about equal opportunity and merit. Just like the developed countries of the world, Mumbai is a leading city of India. We have literally outsourced our jobs to the cheapest and the most efficient labor in the country. It’s outsourcing that has enabled the developed countries gain a competitive edge. So it is in case of Mumbai. Without outsourcing, it is not possible to get the best service in shops. Shopkeepers in Mumbai, unlike any other place treat the customer as God. Without outsourcing, it is not possible to get your clothes ironed, at your doorstep for a charge of Rs. 2. Without outsourcing it is not possible to get the most efficient Rickshaw or taxi service which charge as per the meter reading (which doesn’t happen in many Indian cities).

In the words of Mumbai based filmmaker Nitin Chandra, “For Biharis, migration is a need. For politicians it is a threat of their political space being swamped by others. I am sorry to say it, but the fact is that the hungry farmers in Maharashtra commit suicide while the equally deprived farmers in Bihar, instead of killing themselves, slum it in cities like Mumbai."

It is high time for the Marathi vote bank, the common man to unite against the greedy politics. It’s time for every Mumbaikar to realize that regional conflicts will not benefit Mumbai or Maharashtra in any way. It will instead hamper its growth in a huge way.

- A Mumbaikar who salutes the spirit of Mumbai

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