The Matter of Marathi

I had wanted to raise this issue since a long long time, but i just did not get the right chance. Thanks to confluence to give me such a platform and thanks to Gaurav for motivating me to write. So finally i am writing what i wanted to write since a very long time.

The debate on this issue has been on since a very very long time. But it has gained vast momentum recently. Maharashtra, Mumbai and the Marathi manoos have been the major elements of this debate. Some say Maharshtra has been encroached by the non-Maharshtrians and that they are now eating away on the rights of the sons of the soil. Some say today Marathi is being sidelined in its birth place and Hindi and Gujrati are taking it’s place. Though some part of all this is true and some isn’t, what we need to think today is, weather the politicisation of the issue is right or not, and whether the point raised by the politicians is correct. As a person who has lived in Maharashtra and Gujrat and experienced life at both places, I would like to express my view on this issue. It may feel biased to some and correct to some. But what i want to say before you start reading this article is that while reading this article plese think neutrally and do not form an opinion about anything until you reach the end.

Mumbai being the economic capital of India, provides a lot of job opportunities and so people from all over the country and all walks of life come here in search of a better life. Some have their dreams fulfilled, some are not that lucky. Some people come here and they become Mumbai’s forever while some just return back. But in all these happenings what happens to the people of Mumbai needs to be noticed. What was said by Balasaheb Thackrey and what is being said by Raj Thackrey today needs to be noted and thought upon. What the MNS and the Shiv-Sena advocate for must be taken into consideration.

The motive of these parties may be political. But the point that they have raised is not entirely uncorrect. They say that in a state having a state language apart from the national language all work should be done in the state language i.e. Marathi. As an example we can look at the southern state’s of Tamil Nadu and Kerela. Everything there is carried on in their native language. At this the point that there has not been as much migration in those states as in Mumbai can be raised. OK. Point taken. But then what can you say about Gujrat where a major part of the office work was being done in Gujrati?? And it is not the only place of concern. Take the radio channels for example. Everywhere the RJ’s are speaking in the local language except Maharahtra. Here Every radio channel RJ is asked to speak in HINDI as there is a lot of Hindi speaking junta around. Very rarely i have heard an RJ speaking in Marathi. How can this be justified? Just because the Marathi people are considerate dose not mean that they should be taken for granted. And to add to the woes, what happens when a question is put as to why this RJing is not done in Marathi, the reply comes that it is not our national language Hindi is. Well where does this thing go when in Gujrat. Here the RJ’s don’t speak in Hindi. The entire show is done in Gujrati. Now why? And this is just one example to cite. There are many many more. Infact today Marathi has almost vanished from Mumbai and Hindi and Gujrati have taken it’s place.

I respect Hindi as a language. I ve got no grudge against any other language either. But at the same time I love my mother tongue too. I can’t see it fading off this way. I can’t see the way it is being neglected. I can’t see the way the Marathi manoos is being made to forget his own Mother tongue. Actually the Marathi manoos is more to blame for this situation. When he was subjected to Hindi as a second language, he took it more as it facilitated him in conversing with a lot more people.And instead of taking Marathi to their homes he took back Hindi to his own home, which eventually has lead to what has happened today. The MNS and the Shiv-Sena are trying to change this situation and propagate the use of Marathi in Maharashtra. I don’t feel there is any worng with this. What is wrong in urging people to speak in their Mother tongue?

As for the other points raised and the demands that are being put by these parties. I do not think all of them are worth supporting and infact some of them are baseless. Take for an example the point of reservation for the son of the soil. What a dumb point! Why can’t the Marathi Manoos prove himself and go towards success. Why does he need the support of reservation for it. Why just can’t he admit the fact that he is lagging beacuse he is lazier and less hard working. What i feel is that these political parties should try to eliminate these aspects of the traditional Marathi Manoos rather than demanding a reservation for him.

As for the violence, violence can never be supported. There can always be a better way of saying a thing than going the voilent way. But again we cannot forget that this is politics and things like these are a part and parcel of that. Unless and until these parties have some power in their hand they just cannot bring about any change, be it good or bad. There are many aspects of this politicisation that cannot be justified, yet which are necessary from the political point of view. Each and every political party in our country resorts to such kind of acts some time or the other, willingly or unwillingly,publicly or privately. And all these have only one answer according to me,”this is politics!”

But the demand for all the work of the state to be done in Marathi is correct. The propagation of Marathi, and building the respect for Marathi is necessary. Else this language will die. Just put your Mother tongue in the place that my Mother tongue is today and i am sure you will feel the pain and the need for the upliftment. Maybe then you may feel my point of view right. May be then you will understand.


New York = Ahmedabad ?

I saw this new movie New York recently. For those who don’t know, it’s about the retribution faced by Asians (especially Muslims) in America after the 9/11 attacks. A very nicely told story of how a perfectly innocent guy is driven to terrorism and destruction just because of his religion.

The first thing that came to my mind after I saw this movie was, How similar the story and the issue depicted in the movie is to what happened in Gujarat post-godhra in 2002. The more I thought about it, the more I realised how intolerance and prejudice (racial or religious) transcends borders and is the same everywhere.

In New York, the plight of the Muslims in America after the w.t.c attacks is the same as that faced by those in Gujarat in the immediate aftermath of the Godhra massacre. Not only that, even the reason of their misery is similar. While what happened in America was a reaction to the truly evil act committed by a few mindless zealots, what we saw in Gujarat was an outcome of the dastardly act committed by some fanatics in Godhra. The similarity is that in both cases, the people who faced the retribution were totally disconnected from the respective events. The average Asian in America had nothing to do with the terrorists just as the poor Bakery owner in Baroda or Ahmedabad had nothing to do with Godhra.

In the U.S, what happened was due to the prejudice that suddenly sprang up against Muslims, Arabs and Asians along with the free hand given to the investigative agencies there. What we saw in Gujarat was due to the intolerance that has been systematically developed among the Gujarati populace by fanatical right wing organizations that use “Ram” to justify their acts. This intolerance in Gujarat has also percolated into the law enforcement agencies which were mute spectators and at times even active accomplices in what happened.

I ve heard many people praise New York and sympathize with the victims in the movie. All I wish is that we showed similar empathy and solidarity even in real life, in Gujarat. I don’t want to get in to the politics of the issue. I despise Modi for what he did (or didn’t do). I know most of my fellow gujaratis don’t. I don’t care. All I wish is that we, as a civilized, peaceful society; and as a state that gave India Gandhiji and Sardar Patel atleast understand the gravity of what happened in February 2002. I feel saddened by the fact that we have, in the last 7 years, not made a single expression of collective remorse at what happened! We must learn from Australian P.M Kevin Rudd who publically apologized for what the country had done to the aborigines there. Would it be too much to expect our elected leaders to at least say they regret what happened? A little compassion never does any harm….

I know some friends who still justify what happened 7 years ago by using the “Every action has a Reaction” nonsense. To them all I can say is that reactions do not happen hundreds of kilometres away from the action!! I don’t care what view you subscribe to, left, right or centre. At least be humane enough to feel sorry for what happened…..