Friday, February 15, 2008

How Marathi is Marathi?

How Marathi is Marathi?
How Migrant is Migrant?

I safely landed in Mumbai and zoomed to the house thanks to a very traffic free road left unventured by a scared / cautious public. Mumbai was on fire once again thanks to the ancient 'Marathi manoos vs. others' debate.

All thru my drive home, I met with different opinions, different theories and none seemed to convince me enough. It might be a virtue of having grown up in an environment very indifferent to politics but I, for one, try not to digest any set of theory readily, however logical it may sound, if it has a political tinge of thought process behind it. I take my own sweet little time and exert a lot more caution. Be it the very left, or the very right pattern of thinking, as fate would have it, my origin and my residence, both is so strategic that off late I find myself humouring away the diverse set of clear and crisp ideologies that relatives on each side adhere to.

The argument people put here is simple. That the migrant population is an undue, uninvited burden and hardworking though they may, the immigrants by the thousands fill up local trains, erect slums and flourishing ghettos in no time. The infrastructure of this city (Mumbai) is getting burdened and may collapse pretty soon if the inflow of people is not checked. More, the parent states have 'failed' (and so are to be blamed) for their people need to leave their states in such large numbers to earn their livelihood.

There are a few basic things that come to my mind to counter the above logic:

1) Can anyone in this country decide who can come in their state or city and who can't? Such a notion / decision / belief is unconstitutional, even if we may stretch our imagination to accomodate it as logical.

2) How Marathi is Marathi? I might be a disaster case, for one.

3) How Migrant is Migrant? There must be people, who have accepted this city as their home since more than five or six decades. Will they still be outsiders or migrants? And how illogical is it to expect that a person staying in your city should have a cultural makeover overnight? Is culture such a simplistic thing that can be accepted / modified suddenly? And is abiding by your culture, rituals and language a show of disrespect to the other?

I am a Maharashtrian, born of a Gujarati mother, grown up in Ahmedabad. My grandparents and their parents also stayed in Gujarat for a long time. Aaji can speak, read and write Gujarati as well as she can communicate in Marathi. It would be now close to sixty years or more, that we are based in Gujarat and I have a huge soft corner for Ahmedabad. And yet, it would be a painful and illogical dilemma if I am asked to pick one of my two origins and shun the other completely.

The uproar that arose in Mumbai recently raised a very simplistic and genuine sense of empathy with all those who were bullied and beaten on camera. The question is, how you will measure the marathi quotient of a marathi manoos. And how will you decide how migrant is migrant?

Actually no. The more important question is who, in the first place, gave you the right to sit and judge and sieve out people based on their origin, caste and language in the largest democracy of the world?

26 comments:

Internation Musing said...

India has more than 15 official languages. How can it discriminate one against each other?
Kindest

pj said...

agree with you on this one....people who create this chaos only do it in their own interests...and innocent ppl get beaten up.But ppl also need to respect (and not make fun of)the culture of the place they live in....

dharmabum said...

i really don't know what to say, just feel sad.

feddabonn said...

my mom said once: "i am prejudiced against people who are prejudiced." ha.

Joseph said...

Hi Gauri,

As has been my practice, I shall describe and share with you some of my experiences as a migrant in "Marathi manoos" country.

Though our "muluk" (native place) is Mangalore, a coastal town in Karnataka, my father was a railwayman mostly posted in Maharashtra.

My school record speaks for itself: the first 6 months of my first standard at Jabalpur and the second 6 months of the first standard (1956-57) at Nagpur. The 2nd standard (1957-58) at Solapur. From the 3rd to 5th standards (1958-61) at Manmad.

My 6th and 7th standards (1961-63) at Bandra, Mumbai, a place where Amitabh "Amar Akbar Anthony" Bachhan was born; the 8th to 11th standards (1963-67) at Mazagaon, Mumbai. Finally four years of my B.Sc. in Chemistry at St Xavier's College, Dhobi Talao, Mumbai.

I am listing these places with such detail and precision to impress upon you that few so-called Marathi manoos have had such wide exposure of Maharashtra during their school days.

During my school and college days in Mumbai, marked by the "birth and rise in blood" of the Shiv Sena, I have never tired in demolishing the Marathi spoken by the so-called rakshaks of the Marathi manoos.

Today my initials "J.P." are spelt out by my close friends as "Janardhan Pendse" and I challenge you to guess that I was born outside Maharashtra, if you only hear me speak Marathi.

My wife is a Pune-born Marathi-speaking girl and I am proud that my only daughter has studied in a Marathi-medium school.

My migrant experience has enriched my personality so much that my daughter calls herself "a citizen of the world." What more can I ask for?

In this narration of mine, Gauri, and the lives lived by countless migrants like me lie the seeds of the destruction of narrow-minded chauvinists. We shall overcome ...

Joseph M. Pinto

Gauri Gharpure said...

@ internations- Pure facts and logic also falls short to put a check to many a idiosyncrasies in our nation. We also wonder just as u do....

@ PJ-- yes.. people need to respect other cultures. i was jus wondering abt the condition in the parenthesis? have we not got a bit too thin skinned all of a sudden. were we a public to take offence at film songs and ads and such alike so readily in the past? and is such a possessive censorship right? democracy cant breathe freely enough if we are not a society of sporting people.. what do u think?

@dharma... same here..

@feddabon- coool observation and admission :) ur mom must be a very strong and smart woman..

Sir..
thnks again for sharing ur thoughts in detail...
people like u, who have a strong platform to convey and nurture thoughts in youth / student population can do wonders... you are the example!
and we shall overcome.. there's no other way but downhill if we don't..

Gaurav said...

A short sighted politician trying to get media attention, group of goons with nothing to do at hand, innocent people beaten up, an innocent man dies and the politician says "our man who was killed".

Will somebody drag this politician out and ask him, "what happened to the good old slogan of Unity in Diversity?" "Can't that united diversity not even co-exist?"

Viraj said...

This very problem raised its ugly head in 80s as well and I believe tht it is nthing else other thn gaiing political mileage. it is quite true tht many north indians hav occupied many of the white collar jobs in d city but it is nt correct to blame thm for it. if they hav talent for it, thn y nt? who r these protestors to decide their fate?
btw, very well written post.

a new philosopher is born said...

i am often surprised, that though everybody - the common man i mean, feels so strongly against these political manipulations, still remains so silent. what could politicians do, if people decide to come togther, and make a demonstration against him - togther - like a life chain...nothing violent...no need of banners...just a silent protest, like each one decides to stand outside his house for the whole day.....to make a strong statement....but nothing happens....sadly...

The Depressed Doormat said...

Gauri, I am no expert on Indian law and I will answer your bullet points to the best of my ability.

Before I do though, it is imperitive to point out the fact that there really are two issues here. One is the people's issue. Who these people are, will perhaps get cleared as I progress. Two, the political issue. While some are in it for the mileage (probably most), there is a HUGE political debate amongst the masses over issues that were under cover, until the MNS did what they did.

1. Yes. India is part "federal". Which means the states have the power to enforce laws to ensure the well being of ITS citizens. If that means closely inspecting the influx of people (as long as justifiable), then so be it. To burrow your head in the sand for the sake of a few outdated and near-sighted principles or laws, is to ensure a speedy demise.

2. This is a loaded question. The answer will depend on which issue you want to address. And there are two separate issues, though people might find it hard to distinguish. The way I see it, the two issues have been muddled by the people and hence it is difficult to tackle when seen as a single problem.

3. I find an inherent contradiction in the framing of your sentences. They accept the new land as home, but are unwilling to accept the locals, their culture etc?! That is pretty much what the "americans" did to the Native Americans, is it not? No rational person expects an "immigrant" to immediately adapt to the new "culture", but a willingness to do so, a respect for the existing culture, an attempt to co-exist rather than overrun are quite essential for the native culture. The moment natives are threatened, expect them to raise a ruckus. Having successfully replaced Marathi with Hindi and a growing north indian population, that finds itself "at home", is sidelining the very people who have been accepting of the new cultures through the generations.

P.S. The people that framed our constitution were not perfect. They may have made mistakes, been unable to see in the future, may have had their own political ideologies and interests. To sell your soul to that peice of paper is as foolish as killing yourself for 70 virgins in the afterlife, or bombing an entire civilisation because that is what is written (only varying in degree).

suren said...

good yaa... this is nothing but a political stunt with a different colour.
i can see somebody giving a deeper cultural explanation to this issue hinting at clash of cultures and the friction rising out, which also cannot be discounted. having said that one needs to see if the problem is really that serious or being manipulated. though i have not been to mumbai or seen that culture etc i have a gut feeling that marathi or hindi, both may be succumbing to the same western!

Gauri Gharpure said...

@gaurav--- true, agreed. the press did its part, just abt... hope people also show their disgust in a constructive manner...

@viraj-- the question is not wht jobs the northindians have and wht jobs the maharashtrians have... ideally such a question shud not be... and we have a political party that grows and thrives based on such dissecting principles... sad..

@ the new philosopher--- this is wht happened in the time of gandhi... as a child, i often wondered how the dates i learnt by heart for history papers cud have actually materialised... it ws blood curling, it ws too scary. but yes, wish such a thing cud happen now..

@ the doormat-- try as i might, even I am not well-read in law constitution, but the point u have said abt the state governments having the right to control the influx of workers seems skewed... which laws / sections of the IPC are u talking abt?

let me jump to point 3-- "culture", "respect" "immigrant", "new" --- all these are very subjective terms.. but violence and livelihood- both are directly related to flesh and blood...

and wht happened in Mumbai recently was a gross exaggeration of feelings, into unjustifiable actions of arrogance and violence. this translation of assumptions into actions, violent, inappropriate and aimed at daily wagers or people with low income strikes to me as utterly wrong..

Whether the arguments put are logical, constitutional or economically feasible is a different issue altogether, which can be debated in a conduct appropriate to an educated, working class and not by bullying and vandalism as it ws attempted to be done...

Gauri Gharpure said...

@ suren- forgot to reply to your comment... interesting observation- both abt the post and the comments.. interesting point abt the western influence too.. of late, however, i ve come to notice tht indians, whether they go anywhere in the world, remain stoic with a very basic, "indian" narrowmindedness... i am not sure if i am conveying exactly wht i want to say... but yes, there is a western influence, true-- but not where we might as well appreciate, or not enough...:) half-baked, maybe? hmm... another post altogether.. And thnks for dropping by!!

The Depressed Doormat said...

So are you saying because we have "bad" politicians who care more about votes than the people that the people should forego their rights?

Indians have a right to free movement. The citizens of bombay have a right to a good standard of living, and its government has the duty to ensure that. These are completely contradictory rights, mind you. So are you going to tell me that the rights of one group are greater than the other?

Every rational person finds this violence quite unnerving. It isn't just you. But the point you miss out on,is that there is an underlying problem, no matter how our maharashtrian and UP politicians behave. I believe the points I made will seem more rational if you think about solving the real problem rather than concentrate on the Thackerays.

IF the government actually addressed the real issues, the people would not need a thackeray. THAT is something worth pondering over.

Gauri Gharpure said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gauri Gharpure said...

@ the doormat--- all ur questions seem to be in a much assumed rhetoric.. I have not even vaguely entertained or implied the questions and the answers u have proposed in the comment above.. :) in as short as i can answer- a) any developing city will face the problems Mumbai is making noise about...It's not as much abt a grp of people as it is abt a nation tht is progressing day in and day out... it's not as much abt a political party as it is abt a mentality tht occurs to me as very sick... tht's all. wht are the solutions to the underlying problems tht u are talking abt? I hope not bullying, vandalism, communalism and gundagiri...

Suhrud Godbole said...

We all have been talking about this issue, but all of us i believe are missing and not talking about a very important point. Yes, what Raj and his men did was absolutely pathetic. Yes, political mileage is really the driving force of this whole ruckus that has been created! But what does one say? Arrest Raj, ban MNS? Do you really think that this is the solution? Even more sad and important to deal with, is the reality, and the reality is that a majority of the middle-class Marathi population DOES have a resentment towards the Non-Marathi person. And i would like to stress on the key-word here - middle class.

The problems lie much deeper than we actually think. The problems are much more abstract, and most of them cannot be substantiated with hard facts. The problem begins when we are 6 years of age, when our parents enroll us into a primary school, where we have this one subject named History! thats the bud! thats where it all begins from. It is our biased, prejudiced, politically motivated History books, which strikes us first. Thats the impression we carry all our lives. We are told that 'Mr. XYZ is great! And thats the truth! Do not counter that!'.. And we believe it all our lives. Some of us, skeptics if you might call them, dont believe in anything that has been told to them, and start a new journey, a new discovery of who they are, what culture means to them, what is nationhood, and often-used mumbo-jumbo words like these. But we have denied our kids the freedom to choose and discover things themselves. Hence we have pride. Pride that leads us to believe that 'my culture is the greatest, and every other culture comes 2nd'. A mature mind will will think about what is right for him, what is wrong for him. But are we giving the kids a chance to decide? Are we giving them that room to introspect, experience, conclude, contradict? No! Thats a big big issue we are missing out on. Yes, u'll arrest Raj and Balasaheb and every other regional, national international goon. But what will you, or can you do, to change the hearts of millions of people? Raj didnt create a monster.. Raj only tapped the monster that was already there. The anger was latent, the frustration was latent. He just hit the iron when it was hot. He pressed all the right buttons. You have to give him credit for the way he orchestrated the whole event, as it had pin-point accuracy. What is sad that the Marathi Manoos does have this latent feeling inside him. What about that? Primary Education. Thats where we should start I feel.

feddabonn said...

@ shurud:

while unaware of the standards of maharashtian primary education, i believe you make a valid point. a very scary point, but a valid one-that it is not, as we like to believe, the 'politician' or the 'government' or the 'corporate' that is evil-it is us. we. you and me. the chap i sit next to on the bus. who i buy cigarettes from. whom i crack a joke with. you. and me. my parents. and uncles. and aunties. it is we that make up the rottenness that this country is seeing, in gujarat, maharashtra, kashmir, the north east, singur and every government office you care to step into.

the lines from 'platoon' i will never forget-"..the enemy was us"

Gauri Gharpure said...

@ Suhrud...extremely glad to read wht u ve written... strange, but so many things, however complex or far fetched they may seem, find a root in education.. how good or bad it is, whether it's moral or merely mental and so on... and then u see the municipaliy schools rotting away and the sweepers and kaamwali bais all pinning their hopes to their childrn's good education... Yes. it all boils up to a good teacher, a good guide, an open growing up where u r allowed to choose and think aloud.

am glad ur wonderful comment has put the whole issue in such an important perspective...

Baruk, yes, u ve followed up on Suhrud's thoughts right.. It's all abt Us, We and all such pronouns-- strangers in land and being, yet friends in thought.. not specifcally with regards to this comment, but why do i see so much of skepticism and cynicism in u? Perhaps a generous dash of anger too... then, i may be wrong altogether :) no offense... dunno... India is not all tht rotten, there's still a lot of hope and even if there werent, in India we grow hope as casually and as stubbornly as weeds stick out of barren soil.. nothing's worth losing hope... don't u think so?? :)

Suhrud Godbole said...

@gauri and baruk

even though we have talked so much about the problems that we as a country are facing, we must throw in a dash of optimism.. every nation does and will have its own dynamics of evolution. we have to give India time to mature and settle down. We are a very young democracy.. we were born on the 15th of Aug 1947.. that makes us very young as a nation. It was just in 1947, that the whole concept of unified India came into existence. People say that our civilisation is very ancient, but the truth is that the whole concept of a unified nation was never there in India. People living on the border areas of India and Pakistan faced a huge problem as to where they need to go, as they never had the concept of ONE country.. So we must wait, maybe for 50 more years.. or maybe more.. or maybe less.. until the dust settles down, and people come to accept the fact that the country in one. maybe what i am saying is not very linked to our discussion here, but i guess it is..

Lets give our country the time it needs.. lets hope that organically we will come to an equilibrium, which is much needed..

Gauri Gharpure said...

Get your hands on TEHELKA, Saturday, April 12, 2008 issue. p26 carries the story of a Bihari man .. A mob allegedly cut/mangled his hands in the frenzy that arose post Raj Thackeray controversy... This story has so far gone largely unreported... I wonder how the marathi manoos justifies such a ruthless mayhem?

Abhijit Khare said...

people have talked about unity in diversity.... lets do one thing...on those lines let us call every one of the 100 crore indians to mumbai...after all its their constitutional right... i think when these marathi debates come up they mean that recent migrants... not ones who have stayed here for more that a generation.... and particularly those who erect slums and become criminals should be stopped from entering mumbai... as aslo shud laloo who has 'dared' that he will perform a puja at mumbai... plus when this thing came up via MNS i dont think anyone got beaten up... there may have been a one off case but i think the media inflamed the situation... and after all it is true that mumbai cant take more people now... not even marathis from other parts of Mah... and to those who say 'then develop the infrastructure in mumbai'... why dont other states do that to stop people from leaving their states and coming to mumbai...

another thing is that these people earn their bread in mumbai but do not do anything to 'improve the infrastructure' in mumbai....all that money is sent to their native states.... is this FAIR?

Abhijit Khare said...

@suhrud
and as suhrud said i am one of that middle class with the latent anger

Megha Gusain said...

i liked ur article...and i ttally agree wid u dat creating all the menace and violence on dis issue when its clearly stated in the constitution dat a person has full right to reside and work wherevr he wants... its useless to fight and debate...a big blow on national integration,....

Ibanov, Sir Rekaf said...

Finally a "non-migrant" speaks sense!
The issue should have been nipped in the bud when it began - pity the rulers (read Congress) had vested interests back then.

Mahendra said...

Hi Gauri,

As I mentioned in my post, I don't think this issue is worthy of being elevated to a debate in the first place.

A desperate political party turning fascist and resorting to violence and threats is the cause of my concern.

You have nicely brought out the different levels of grays that lie between the black and white spectrum painted by the Sena.