COMPETITIVE, CRAZY CHAUVINISM

The Thackeray clones are fighting to show who is more viciously pro-Marathi and ‘anti-outsider’.

The heir apparent, Udhav Thackeray, has promised to ‘parcel’ outsiders who come to Mumbai for jobs and send them out in cargo planes.

This came shortly after the original agent provocateur, Raj Thackeray, reiterated his views about how hateful it was that North Indians were “forming groups” and were insensitive to Marathi culture. I have no doubt that if he had his way, anyone who disagreed with his views would likely be banished or buried deep under.

So now two parties are competing to be more hateful and insular. Apparently, this is the easiest and most practical way to get popular votes.

Shame on the public for creating these minor monsters! What else can we expect from them, when they voted to power the same people that slaughtered hundreds of Muslims in 1992? Of course, the Muslim parties were responsible in no small measure for the tragedy.

For outsiders who don’t understand this issue, read about the Shiv Sena.

32 responses to “COMPETITIVE, CRAZY CHAUVINISM

  1. The acts of the Thackeray minions are despicable. While the obvious parochial move is condemned, little is done to dissipate the underlying tensions. People vote these morons as there is a steady current of mistrust and these elements tap into it, dole out hyperbole that whips up emotions and that translates into votes.

    The bigger picture however is the growing frustration-alienation of the local culture due to the locals becoming a minority. Bangalore with just 27-30% Kannada population is at the same crossroads. KRV is resorting to Sena like tactics; many do not approve of it, but turn a blind eye, as something needs to be done. Many non locals do not blend in and learn the basics of the local language having stayed in the city for 30 years. Both are at fault and the happy medium is in between. It needs both to make changes. Bangalore is seeing a mini awakening of sorts with some aspects being good and some, not so good ..

    I wrote a 2 part article recently and took it to churumuri.wordpress.com — a Bangalore centric blog and mutiny.in — a more India centric one with such contrasting results ..

    http://currentcaveats.blogspot.com/2008/01/bangalore-surviving-byte-part1.html

    http://currentcaveats.blogspot.com/2008/01/bangalore-byte-ing-dust-part2.html

  2. R-Doc: I do not know what the foregoing expositions are about but for me, a North Indian who does not like Bombay (any surprises there? Considering I prefer Calcutta…), all I can say is this:

    Na Udhav ka lena, Na Madhav ka dena…

    (PS: That just means – don’t take from Udhav, don’t give to Madhav)

  3. Being a Marathi Mumbaikar, this news makes me hang my head in shame. When will Indians get over regional-xenophobia?

    A bold editorial in the biggest Marathi newspaper the other day had an excellent satire – “उथळ पाण्याला खळखळाट फार”, i.e. a ‘A shallow river is more noisy’. These parties don’t have a large fan following among the sane majority. But then sane people seldom vote.

  4. R-Doc: Now that you removed the 2 weird comments about American caucuses, the first line of my comment reads funny.

    Just to let Athreya know it does not refer to you. 🙂

  5. This is a political fight of sorts. The Samajwadi party is also trying to garner a vote bank in Mumbai by whipping up regional rhetoric, and celebrating UP day etc in Mumbai. (I am not saying this is wrong or right, just stating facts) and this has got Shiv Sena might worried. When Shiv Sena said don’t celebrate UP day here, Amar Singh said who are you to stop us, we will get lathis. This kind of confrontation is dangerous.
    As the Maharashstrian population which is their vote bank is already declining, the Shiv Sena are worried that they will soon become a non entity type of party if the people from UP and Bihar start voting for the Samajwadi party. The Congress is also worried I think, from the inaction of the state govt.
    The Shiv Sena, is a party I would never like to see in power at state level. The thought makes me nervous. The first thing they will do is ban Valentines day celebrations! Next they will censor cinema, and force women to wear Indian traditional clothes! They will ban couples from the roads, and probably check their marriage license! I can go on an on…the Shiv Sena is the moral police.

  6. nita is perfectly right
    this is political plain and simple ,
    i think what irked raj/udhav was the barrage of up leaders doin their meetings near his shivaji park house and also the chat puja thing …which was like direct challange to their political turf…
    things wernt helped by abu azmi and samajwadi party who is much worse than both of them put together .. and to be fair to raj – whose statements wernt focussed on by the north indian media channels

    But if u look at it it is no different or much milder than what other parties like the communists or say the dmk or the Agp would do – from what behavior they have exhibited.. so it is incorrect to single them out ..
    these parties survive to an extent on such attention grabbing stunts ..

    However this also doesn’t absolve the central govt for allowing things to crumble here / not caring for responsible mumbaikar look at the state of the suburban rail – travelling in it is injurious to health
    and state govts and politicians mainly of congress and later of sena and others who allowed all the immigrants to settle illegally on public land for vote considerations including giving them documents and ration cards (starting with the bangladeshis)
    which has now become an organised TDR business of politician builder slumlord gangster lobby..

    Nowadays the validity of ration card as a document is suspect and invalid for getting pan..

    one has also to look at up and bihar politics and bahubali politicians who have been mismanaging states for a very long time now- leading to this kind of population growth and mass migration due to lack of opportunities…

  7. All (sorry for the collective comment):
    I appreciate your points. Athreya, you write well.
    I am against the concept of collective identity claiming special rights. ‘Locals’, ‘minorities’, ‘deprived classes’, etc., all claiming special treatment. No one says “We are a group, give us less, tax us more…” Everyone, typically, is out to squeeze whatever one can by the clout and moral sanction of being a collective.
    One needs to reject just that premise. There cannot be an ‘insider-outsider’ phenomenon inside a country. There cannot be a Marathi or Kannada culture that is mandatory for others to respect and learn.
    Since few question the basis of this, the politicians get away with their evil manipulations, as Nita and Prax have so rightly pointed out.

  8. Doc

    //There cannot be a Marathi or Kannada culture that is mandatory for others to respect and learn.//

    I agree with the general principle of what you say. However, at the risk of swimming against the current, I would assert that for Hindiwallas IN PARTICULAR, in non-North India IN PARTICULAR, at least a working knowledge of the local language HAS to be made mandatory, with an “or else” proviso. I have nothing against their continuing to adhere to their own culture, but adapting to (if not adopting) local cultural norms has to be made an absolute must for them.

    An overwhelming majority of Hindiwallahs are arrogant, in both resisting the local language of whichever place in Lesser India they choose to infest, and in making the constitutionally incorrect claim that theirs is “The” National Language (unfortunately we have no law against wilful misrepresentation of the Constitution).

    Another point: it seems to have escaped the attention of most commentators that the PRESENT campaign of the MNES and SS is NOT against all outsiders but against North Indians in particular. By pointing out this I do NOT seek to endorse the targeting by these parties of other “outsider” communities in the past (or, perhaps in the future).

    Secondly, the Marathi people are no different than the Tamils and the Bengalis (and, as evidenced more recently, the Assamese and Kannadigas) in their opposition to “cultural colonisation.” They differ from the others named only in their eagerness to lick the boots of North Indians. If they have finally seen the light of day it is something I welcome and support.

    Finally, while I hold no brief for the Shiv Sena, the Thackerays, or their methods, I don’t see why their brand of politics in their own turf (such as it is!) should be found more reprehensible than that of thugs from Lucknow coming to overrun Mumbai with their own fascistic brand of high-handed homogenisation.

  9. “I would assert that for Hindiwallas IN PARTICULAR, in non-North India IN PARTICULAR, at least a working knowledge of the local language HAS to be made mandatory, with an “or else” proviso. ”
    Vivek:
    I am disappointed with that comment of yours.
    In a free society, there are only individuals or citizens. There are no Hindiwallahs and lungiwallahs and other groups, according to the law and Constitution.
    “Or else” is pretty much mob-rule. It means that an individual is not free to choose to learn one language or the other. Furthermore, there are no basic rationales for making only language compulsory. Next comes dress, culture, religion, and everything comes with a ‘or else’ proviso….
    who is to object to that?
    Disastrous!

  10. I agree with Nita. The SP leaders are doing their best to deepen the divide. The Samajwadi leaders messed up UP in collusion with the Saffron Brigade and now they are using the Thackray’s to their advantage. For God’s sake let the North Indians handle their problems with the support of local leaders. Amar Singh in any case has a full time job- PS to the great Bachchan. They have no moral right to talk about the gundagardi of the Thackrey cousins. They promoted the likes of Mukhtar Ansari, AmarmaniTripathi, Qazi Yakub Ali( he was a minister despite offering supari to the killer of the Danish cartoonist) and Raja Bhaiya. They have murderers, rapists, fanatics, terrorists and drug peddlars in their party.
    The Thackerays have always played divisive politics. The strange part of the whole story is that Jaya Bachchan a Rajya Sabha MP of SP calls Bal Thackeray a father figure and the NCP and Congress don’t use it to their advantage. All these political parties have their own agendas. Nobody is working for the ‘Marathi Manoos’ or the ‘UP ka Bhaiya’.

  11. @ Doc:

    If Hindi can be imposed on the whole country; if the Hindi imperialists can get away with not having to learn any other Indian languge even after living for decades in a place where that language is native; if they can be allowed to get away with not honouring their share of the bargain in the 3-language formula of 1968; and if at the same time they have the audacity to insist that everyone in India must learn THEIR language “or else” those everyone elses are traitors; with all these “ifs” I see nothing wrong with adopting an “or else” tone about the Hindiwallahs.

    As I said, I hold no brief for the politics of the Shiv Sena, its fellow-travellers, or its splinter groups. But if, for once, they can assert the Marathiness of Mumbai in the same way as the Bengaliness of Kolkata or the Tamilness of Chennai is asserted, I have nothing against extending them limited, specific issue-based support.

    @ Pr3rna:

    //They have no moral right to talk about the gundagardi of the Thackrey cousins.//

    I am absolutely with you on that. The Thackerays may be anything, but they are not shifty-eyed, smooth-talking obscenities soaked in oleaginousness like Amar Singh.

    Thank you, by the way, for listing the current eminences of the Cow-belt Hall of Fame.

  12. Doc,

    //… there are no basic rationales for making only language compulsory… //

    In that case, why should we “Madrasis” accept the imposition of Hindi on the whole country? And since it has been done for nearly six decades, why not reciprocally make the learning of any brand of “Madrasi” compulsory for the Hindi imperialists. Why should they be allowed to get away?

  13. Vivek:
    This ‘us and them’ line of thought is a downslide all the way.
    A national language is not mandatory. It is only because the State controls the education boards and the corporations that this is an issue.
    What would happen if there were NO national languages? There could be schools teaching only Urdu or Gujarati or whatever. People would be free to choose what they want. This, again, would be dependent on what language skills would be needed in that society. Freedom to choose…..
    This would eliminate all this nonsense. Unfortunately, since we are a million years away from such a society, we will have to keep fighting all the time.

  14. Doc,

    //…we will have to keep fighting all the time…//

    Um…fighting for exactly what Doc? I ask because you seem to be echoing my thoughts. And fights, let us face it, are essentially about ‘us and them’. They are not about ‘live and let live’. It is when the latter fails that one resorts to the former. And then it is in order to win. Andd once one gets into that mode, it is to the finish. Any victory then must be pyrrhic.

  15. vivek:

    You are like all demagogues. You have imagined that “hindiwallas” call non-hindi speaking people traitors, possibly on the basis of some anecdote in your life. You need such trashy lies to shore up a poor argument, without which it would not stand. If using languages were to be reciprocal, then Englishmen would need to write comments in Marathi to reciprocate the favor of your english comments, no?

    //But if, for once, they can assert the Marathiness of Mumbai in the same way as the Bengaliness of Kolkata …//
    Here you go again, excusing your hatred with imagined hatred prevalent elsewhere.

    //…(then) I have nothing against extending them limited, specific issue-based support.//
    Why learn from Bengalis just this issue? If someone in Calcutta rapes, steals or cheats, you can pretty much do the same, is it? The fact is hatred is inborn, you have chosen the worst possible examples to learn from because of your personal inclinations, because of the person you are.

  16. Bunty (I suppose you have a brother or a sister called Pinky?):

    My observations are not based on stray anecdotal instances. They are the enduring experiences of about 50 out of 61 years of life, of which 18 were spent in Delhi, 8 in Ahmedabad, 9 in Pune, and 22 again in Ahmedabad. In addition I have travelled all over India except J&K and three of the NE states, absorbing all kinds of experiences, and have relatives by marriage (my own as well as of assorted uncles, aunts and cousins) from at least seven regions and language groups of both non-North and North.

    //… imagined hatred prevalent elsewhere.//

    Are you equating the approval or advocacy of one’s own language with hatred for others?

    //If someone in Calcutta rapes, steals or cheats, you can pretty much do the same, is it?//

    This is the rhetoric of a sick mind.

    //…hatred is inborn…//

    The mere disapproval or dislike of particular attributes or traits cannot be branded in a generalised manner as “hatred”. And a reaction cannot be inborn; it is provoked.

  17. Damn my job, I missed out on a good discussion. :-).

    Doc, I so want to agree with you and be an idealist. But if I did, I would be a pseudo at best. The harsh realities of life refuses to be bound to such idealistic frameworks as ‘US= THEM’. For a common man seeing his culture suffer in his own backyard, the expectation is nothing more than,’ when in Rome be a Roman’. You cannot have people stay in a city for 30 years and not pick up the basics of the city’s language. How can you be so disconnected and myopic? If that’s fine, then why are the locals at fault for arguing the opposite? It’s in essence, the very same and more just.

    I’m not just talking of Bangalore. If I relocate to Bihar tomorrow, I better put some effort to pick up Bihari. It helps us as a nation while arguing against it leads to discord.

    Let’s take USA and it’s immigration as a case in point. They are very understanding of immigrant’s roots, while expecting them to be able to converse in English. It’s fair. For me to say I live in Chinatown, SanFrancisco and I do not need to know English does not augur well for either. Even in this global melting pot, there is still ‘Us vs. Them’. The “them” is so many: Blacks, minorities (*-American like Indian-American), gays and on and on.

    Human mind is too fertile to subscribe to a homogenous treatment that would abate the Us vs. Them. But it’s not. Now I’m preaching the choir! 🙂

  18. Athreya,

    Thanks for putting it across so simply and so well. But I’d like to take your Chinatown analogy a bit further with reference to the Hindi imperialists in India. What they want is the equivalent of a Chinatown resident expecting the whole of San Francisco (or wherever) to converse in Chinese for their sake.

    One sentence by Bunty yesterday, on which I chose not to comment, because I cannot match his/her Hindi imperialist arrogance, was —

    “If using languages were to be reciprocal, then Englishmen would need to write comments in Marathi to reciprocate the favor of your english comments, no?”

    This argument is typically representative of the Hindiwallahs’ mindset. They want for themselves the imperialist part (and that alone) of the English heritage in India.

    On the other hand, your “when in Rome…” thought doesn’t really apply. The situation here is more akin to some Visigoths or Amoricans swarming into Rome and demanding that the Romans speak the migrants’ language.

    //I’m not just talking of Bangalore. If I relocate to Bihar tomorrow, I better put some effort to pick up Bihari. It helps us as a nation while arguing against it leads to discord. //

    This is a very important point, which not only the Hindi imperialists but even rational people like Doc do not want to acknowledge. It is the very least one expects of immigrants.

  19. Vivek,
    First of all, I admire your views(in general). I have been awed by your insights on subjects so varied in here and at Nita’s site.

    My comments were in the context of the ‘Us Vs. Them’ and my own views(via the articles) on why we have the discord in Bangalore(very similar to the underlying discord in Mumbai which makes it an easy pick for the likes of Raj Thuga-ray). So the ‘When in Rome..’ applied in silo of sorts to the immigration to the cities and not to the Hindi-imposition viewpoint you were talking of.

    My simplistic view is this : If I’m relocating(not visiting; if just visiting the hosts should do better) to a new city, I need to blend in and pick up the basics of the local language. Don’t disown your own, but embrace a new one and if anything it makes you a better person. But if you are where you are, say a rural Tamil Nadu or Karnataka village, to expect you learn Hindi is definitely an imposition. Same with English.

    I wouldn’t call it imperialism, but it would be hard to argue against the fact that a majority of North India is ignorant about the South. Prior to the IT boom, anyone south of Bombay was a Madrasi — not to mention the Mehmood inspired “Aiyyoo Amma. Kya bolta ji” kind of stereotype slapstick. Keeping it fair, most Indians are clueless for most parts about the NorthEast(sans WB).

    The solution is in making the languages-culture accessible. If people want to learn Hindi they should. By the same token, if people want to learn Tamil,Assamese they should be able to. But with the airwaves, Bollywood et all being so Hindi centric, that’s more of a one way street heavily weighted in Hindi’s favor.

  20. Athreya,

    Thanks for your comments. I think we are on more or less the same wavelength, even though we may express ourselves in different ways.

    I had no intention of bringing my admittedly strong views on this subject to a new war zone, but Rambodoc with this particular post provided a bait I could not resist 🙂 .

    //If people want to learn Hindi they should.//

    That is a very big IF. Actually over the last 40 years it has been mandatory for the non-Hindiwallahs to learn Hindi, with a not-so-subtle “or else” thrown in.

    //By the same token, if people want to learn Tamil,Assamese they should be able to.//

    The “if” here makes it an uneven playing field. The Hindi imperialists would naturally not want to be bothered with learning with such “Madrasi rot.” Ergo, they must be made to under duress — even in their own territories; that’s what the 3-language formula of 1968 was all about.

    //…the discord in Bangalore (very similar to the underlying discord in Mumbai which makes it an easy pick for the likes of Raj Thuga-ray).//

    The similarities are superficial. The discord in Bengalooru has a strong cultural undercurrent, which that in Mumbai does not. Respected figures such as U R Ananthamoorthy have lent their name to the movement in Karnataka, whereas in Maharashtra the intellectuals are largely sitting on the fence, leaving the field open to goons. I also think the discord in Bengalooru cuts across economic classes, which that in Mumbai does not.

  21. diverse indian

    If people speaking hindi can enforce Hindi on the whole nation, what is wrong with the state asking every one to talk “in that state” in the local language?
    All these people who say that this is parochial, never say anything when Hindi is enforced on the whole nation. This is double standards. Why do u call the people ‘monsters’ for supporting their local preferences? Are these so called monsters forcing every one to speak in Marathi in Delhi? Can some one please answer?

  22. Vivek Khadpekar

    diverse indian,

    Thank you for your plain questions. And it’s good you do not ask them rhetorically. Let us hope someone WILL pick up your gauntlet.

    Just to fine-tune your arguments, I’d like to point out that the Constitution of India does not anywhere refer to India as a “nation”, nor does it refer to Hindi as “the national language”. So, for dialogue such as this, one need not call India anything more than a “country”, and Hindi, in keeping with the terminology use in the Constitution, is just the “official language”.

  23. Its really unfortunate that our leaders are misrepresenting constitution. I didn’t know that india is not a nation and from Nita’s blog I m aware of the fact that we never had a national language. Still I wonder why I have learned hindi. I never used it in my life not even for a second and it never helped me to excel in my career by the way I m a professional engineer. Hindi is not part of corporate culture even in north indian companies. If this ‘language’ has no impact on our careers why would someone has to force to learn it for no reason? Thats BS. If somebody forces me to do something against my wish I feel like somebody fucki’ in my ass.

  24. Vivek

    Your comment to bunty on feb 14 in the braces referring to his sis pinky is awesome. I liked it. 🙂

  25. This argument is getting hot isn’t it! We can depend on Ravi! 🙂
    Anyway, I have had my own problems with Hindi, basically people trying to force me to speak Hindi, telling me something was wrong with me if I didn’t speak good Hindi, making fun of my Hindi, ridiculing even efforts to speak Hindi, people speaking Hindi very fast so I couldn’t understand a word, people doubting my patriotism because I cannot speak Hindi well, and one person actually suggesting I don’t speak Marathi to Maharashtrians either as Mumbai was cosmopolitan and would soon become an Union territory! And so on and so forth. Strangely I don’t feel angry, I admit I did at one time…usually immediately after some such incident…which I encounter every few days actually! Nowadays I am more amused…

  26. Nita
    I don’t have to speak in hindi even to someone who knows only hindi because I m in a place one HAS to speak in english and I m kind of escaped of that nonsense back in india regarding national language but really glad for not being there. Regarding heated arguments I can’t guarantee anything as of now. 🙂 But I wish Vivek Mittal should be here sometime to make this blog hit new records like yours.

  27. Nita

    Its human tendency to get to used to certain things with time. Probably its happening to you but I don’t want to get to used to things which are forced on me but I will try to find a way to get out of such situations. 🙂

  28. Vivek Khadpekar

    Ravi:

    A minor correction to your observation about my comment to Bunty — “brother or sister”, not just “sister”. 🙂

  29. Vivek

    Whatever….it was awesome though! 🙂

  30. Guys, I think the basic flaw in this argument (where you are advocating local language imposition because Hindi is considered a national language) is that the original wrong is not righted by yours.
    There should be no language imposition by the State at any level. Let people decide how to communicate among themselves.
    Hindi is the closest we have to a national link language, largely because it is used by a large number (possibly the largest number, but I am just guessing here), and by the most TV channels, Bollywood, etc. It is by far less effective than English, which I believe would be the best language, but there is no single South Indian language that is common to those states.
    In other words, I am against imposing Hindi, but definitely don’t think that historical deed can be undone like what the Maharashtrian politicians are hell bent on doing. They, incidentally, don’t own that state and have no territorial/legal rights to say “learn Marathi, or else get out”.

  31. R-Doc: In all this, I would have really liked to see that politician put his money where his mouth was – in terms of issuing an ultimatum to Bollywood producers, most of whom are not Maharashtrian natives, to make all films in Marathi. The ensuing fun would have been incredible to watch!

  32. Vivek Khadpekar

    Doc,

    //They, incidentally, don’t own that state and have no territorial/legal rights to say “learn Marathi, or else get out”//.

    …but the Hindi imperialists own the whole country, and it is all right for THEM to question the nationalist/patriotic credentials of any “Madrasi” type who so much as mildly murmurs dissent or raises an eyebrow?

    Please realise that I am arguing not as a Marathi-speaker but as a non-Hindi speaking, non-North Indian, non-imperialist — one of the more than 60 per cent Indians who are otherwise derogatorily lumped together as “Madrasis”.

    Any historical misdeed MUST be undone — especially when those who cynically benefit from it have gloating smirks on their mugs.

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