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?