Thursday, December 24, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Just sometime back Pankaj-paaji and myself were discussing that we should fight for a statehood of Rainbow Drive, the place I stay!! Afterall all it takes to get a state is a threat of fasting by any asshole.... I do qualify for that asshole and I don't mind going for a mock fast. In fact I had an operation sometime back and didn't (rather couldn't) take food for 3 days. Pankaj was suggesting I should have launched the RBD statehood agitation at that time!!
BTW there are many other proposals that may crop up now:
- State for Bengali speaking people in Karnataka (I, being an asshole, can volunteer for fasting)
- State for sardar-gang (a group of close friends who share the a tremendous sense of humor and a penchant for wit - a group of friends and colleagues working in a company called Synopsys in Bangalore in mid ninetees) ..... this will look like what pakistan was in 1947, two parts one in Punjab and the other around Bangalore
- Some historical statehoods (after all Telengana is the erstwhile Telegu speaking Nizam's territory): like Vijaynagar, Chola, Chera, Pandya, Kakatiya, Mysore etc in South, one state for each of the erstwhile princely states in rajastan, then Awadh in the north and so on!!
- Some overlapping statehoods: The problem will arise if Indians start claiming states based on the kingdoms (or rather empires) of Aurangzeb or Shivaji or Ashoka!! That would really be an interesting thing - more than 80% of present India would be one state. But then if all three states have to exist simultaneously then it would be a case like Chandigarh where almost 100% of the areas of the three states would be common!!
Well, that's for now!! So volunteers needed to go on for fast.
Job description is something like this:
- Should be an asshole (MUST)
That's all... no other requirement!!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
And so it is that he directed his ire first at the 'Madrasis', then, high on the heady brew of Hindutva, at the Muslims and finally against the 'Bhaiyyas' of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Time and again the arms he deployed against these communities proved to be lethal: intimidation, threats, harassment and, with growing intensity, raw violence. These were the times when one statement at a Shivaji Park rally, one editorial in the party organ Samnaa, one order issued from Matoshri, his Bandra residence, could shut down Mumbai and send his opponents cowering for cover.
Thackeray had the means, and the gall, to "teach a lesson" to anyone who crossed his path: a defector, builder, film star, businessman, underworld don or journalist who failed to pay obeisance to the Supremo. In such instances, he showed a sovereign disregard for the rule of law and constitutional niceties. He placed himself on a pedestal higher than the highest court in the land.
That is why he could gloat over his 'achievements' that included the felling of the Babri masjid and the wave of violence he unleashed against Muslims in Mumbai. None of this would have been possible had his declared adversaries, the Congress and especially the NCP, not played footsie with him. But that Faustian deal was Thackeray's insurance against arrest and prosecution.
The idyll was too good to last. The deaths of a son and of his wife shattered him. He became more vulnerable when close associates began to abandon the ship. Age, too, had started to take its toll. But what crippled him was the crisis that gripped the family. In the bitter fight between his son, Uddhav, and his nephew, Raj, to take control of the party, Thackeray cast his lot with the son. But the son could simply not match his cousin's charisma, organisational abilities, determination or his rapacious ambition.
The result was obvious in the recent assembly polls when the MNS outsmarted the Shiv Sena reducing it to a sideshow. This should have encouraged Bal Thackeray to introspect. He did nothing of the sort. Instead, he chose to revile the Marathi manoos for stabbing him in the back. Later he sought to make some amends. His statement, he argued, was made not in a fit of anger but merely to express a benign patriarch's feelings of hurt over the conduct of his errant progeny. It triggered a fusillade of ridicule.
Hardly had the dust raised by the display of 'hurt feelings' begun to settle down than Thackeray fired another diatribe. This time the target was none other than a national icon: Sachin Tendulkar. The nation, and the world at large, applauded him as a cricketer beyond compare. But India discovered another, immensely attractive side of him when he declared that he placed his Indian identity above his Maharashtrian identity. He took great pride in both but his priorities were clear. Add to this his assertion that Mumbai belonged to all Indians.
Bal Thackeray, ever eager to seize the initiative from nephew Raj, gave Sachin an 'affectionate' earful. The ploy misfired. Sachin has emerged from this episode as an enlightened citizen of the republic, one who bears not the slightest taint of any sort of parochialism and, by that token, represents the face of a modern, self-confident and pluralistic India. In the process, he has exposed Bal Thackeray the troubadour of communal strife and regional chauvinism and the destroyer of Bombay's much cherished cosmopolitan character for what he has become today: a caricature of his former self with nothing but bile flowing in his veins. He cannot, or will not, read the writing on the wall. It says: your time is up.
To understand how the MNS gained so many supporters so fast, we must examine the issues taken up by the MNS that seem to resonate with the people of the state. One, while most of India's billionaires have Maharashtra addresses, the state also houses large numbers of poor people in the country. A majority of the state's population is dependent on agriculture, and this sector has suffered with falling crop yields and a poor irrigation infrastructure. The result is a dependence on rainfall, and high fluctuations in output. The state has the highest numbers of farmer suicides in the country. Why? If we want India to progress, shouldn't our farmers progress too?
Two, the so-called secular or nationalist parties don't seem to be doing much presently. There are little signs of visible progress. While agriculture is suffering, the situation in urban areas is no better with crumbling basic infrastructure. Compared to someone inept and invisible, at least the MNS comes across as action-oriented.
Third, the media's elitist obsession plays a role. Most publications and channels are only interested in covering high-class issues rather than the stories of the people of Mumbai, thus relegating a perfectly fine Marathi culture to a lower-class status. Ours is probably the only country where local cultures are looked down upon. Anything too Indian, or liked by too many Indians, is considered down-market. This, despite Marathi culture being one of the richest, original cultures in India, followed by a majority of Maharashtrians. In such a scenario, any party offering visibility to an ignored but loved culture is bound to get support. For the record, the MNS has organised Marathi poetry recitations and literature exhibitions.
However, despite the above valid causes and potentially good intentions, MNS may not be the best bet for Marathis. MNS has gained maximum publicity when it does something dramatic and violent. While such acts attract attention, it is a slippery slope. To get noticed next time, you have to keep increasing the intensity and do something with higher shock value. Members of the MNS have reached the point of slapping an elected representative in the state assembly. But even that story died soon. Soon they'll increase the heat further, hurt innocent people, and cross the limits of civilised behaviour. Is that Marathi culture?
MNS may have brought forward the Marathi cause but by going against almost everyone non-Marathi, it has demonstrated how little it understands the state's dependence on the central government. Maharashtra needs central support to complete critical irrigation projects, which will cost thousands of crores of rupees. Our best shot at progress as a nation is if all states work together with a common agenda, instead of pulling in different directions. Also, by indulging in violent fights with other political parties, the MNS displays an unwillingness to get along with other interest groups. Such an attitude is impractical in a country like India. If MNS members can't listen to people, who will listen to them?
By claiming Mumbai for Marathis and calling everyone else an outsider, MNS is only harming Marathis in the long term. In today's world, progress depends on inter-dependence. If global agricultural companies are incentivised and welcomed to base themselves in Maharashtra, it can dramatically alter the standard of living for Marathi farmers. Kicking everyone else out won't. A lack of understanding of the modern world also casts doubt over MNS's ability to actually deliver on the issues it has raised.
Most Marathis still do not vote MNS. It is these people who can help most by talking more about the choices available to their community and the pros and cons of each option. Increasing the decibel levels of the moderate Marathi voice is needed now. In that respect, the recent comments by Sachin Tendulkar are commendable. Non-Marathis have to stop painting individual personalities as villains and spend more time thinking about what is truly driving the support base of a divisive person. If you dig deep, you will find that just like you, all that the MNS supporters are looking for is a better life. And that common desire alone is enough reason for us to be one.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
By any other name would smell as sweet
- Origin of Bombay by Joseph Gerson da Cunha