The Mumbai Times
Raj, Shobhaa and the Common man
India looks so close from Mumbai! The first picture that comes to my mind, when I think about this city of cities, is how, people arrive at it’s doorstep, armed with virtually nothing, and carve out their long standing dreams at the heart of this city and what amazes me truly about Mumbai is that, it never fails to deliver. The potential, the indestructible spirit that Mumbai has always held and the virtually unputdownable enthusiasm that made Mumbai, what it is today, is what has always attracted me towards it. To be very honest, whatBangalore couldn’t do for me during my 4 years of graduation, Mumbai did it 4 months. I started considering it as my second home.
It has been 8 months since I had last flown over the queen’s necklace, but the picture still looms over my eyes, as it was yesterday and I feel an urge( much greater than that of a fag) to go back into the laps of the hard love that the city gave me once. When I landed into the Chhatrapati Shivaji domestic terminal I felt the city bustling and moving. An enviable melting pot of cultures, practices, religions and dreams- the economic powerhouse of modern India. I knew from day one that if there’s one city in India that can spark off your imagination sky high and fuel your ambitions, it can be this city of dreams. After spending years in the Southern parts of India, I came to know one thing, that even if North Indians graduated from sight seeing dwellers into the money making machine, they are not welcome. I was happy that Mumbai won’t make me feel as if I ventured into a foreign territory. The discrimination that Bangalore made wouldn’t be here, or so I thought. It was true, to its every bit. But now when a Raj Thackeray comes to the forefront with a vested political agenda, and strives to break the image that I had harbored about this city, it pours fuel into the fire. What Raj is aiming is filthy street politics, bounding Mumbai in the parochial confinement.
When we talk about Mumbai, about how different it is from other cities, we advertise the diversity that Mumbai holds up its skin. One thing I noticed about Mumbai that sets this city apart from other Indian states is, people doesn’t look for ‘matre’ or a ‘dharne’ at the end of your name, they value your work instead of your Marathi-speaking credentials. Mumbai doesn’t dwell on useless issues of provincial details. Work and result are in a perfect balance, you give your 100% and take the accolades home. This is what the Mumbai model was. And it would be interesting to quote that Maharashtra has been the only exception in the nomenclatural identity among all the other Indian States (Bengal, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh all focuses on the cultural or the geographic entities). This open mindedness of the unique work culture has made Mumbai what it is today, ‘The Financial capital ofIndia’. What Mamata did for Bengal, Raj is doing it for Mumbai. What he doesn’t understand, that if he succeeds with this projection of a non-existing divide between the locals and the migrated, it can bring down Mumbai to where Bengal is now. That is what happened when Jinnah projected the inequality of Hindus and Muslims. Raj has been clever enough to encash on the sensitivity and the gullibility of ‘us’ Indians on this cultural and racial issue. He knows that this might well be the agenda that can propel him into the super league of Indian. We know it too, but still the media is giving us enough ‘crisp’ fodder to munch on at the breakfast table, and we are gulping it down. The final result – Raj will sit cozy in the political limelight after a few months only somewhere much higher up the ladder, and life will go in Mumbai, but what about the divide that he has created? Does he care enough, to come and mend it? NO! Where was his voice when the blasts ripped apart Mumbai? When thousands were stuck for days in the devastating floods last year? Only if he could filter out the Maharashtraians, and save them from their plight. Raj wont’ be noble enough to acknowledge that when the so-called outsiders are ‘taking away’ jobs, they are contributing their very own, but small part to make Mumbai the one among the greatest cities of the world, and of course his agenda to political super stardom.
Once upon a time in private news channel Ms. Shobhaa De made certain derogatory remarks on why Raj is right on his agenda. She says since Mumbai is a Maharastrian city, people who live here, should learn and speak in Marathi, she further reasons that people who stays in Bengal or Punjab speaks in their respective native languages, and nobody minds. Ms. De I would like to remind you, that to be great, to lead, you have to embrace the entire world, not shun it, not impose such logics and restrictions on people’s mind. I still remember one of my experiences in a distant Bangalore police station, when I went to lodge an FIR against a theft, the complaint was written in Kannad, and the inspector was such an imbecile that he wouldn’t translate it for me in English or Hindi. How would you feel if Mumbai starts behaving like this? Would you be so proud of your city after this, as you are now? Would you be able to boast about a future Ambani or a future Ratan Tata? Would you able to speak as highly of the Mumbai model as you do now? I don’t think so. What example would you set aside for cities like Calcutta or Ahmadabad if such things start happening? What Raj has raised in here, is an inherent feeling that is present in all Indians, don’t you think it’s wrong and unconstitutional? And you should try and nip it in the bud. People read you, and value your opinions, don’t you think that you should rise above parochial confinement and tell where Raj is wrong? Somewhere else you state that you don’t find Maharashtraians in any of the construction sites in Mumbai. I don’t think so that the construction companies have any enmity towards the locals. Or do they? I don’t understand the logic behind your thinking is this respect. I guess you could object if they started putting up the ‘non-maharastrian’ criteria, in their recruitment process. Else not. You say that you want protests, you want street plays, and literature, people raising their voices against the Raj, but where are you? When families come from other states and never want to live, it’s not a problem Ms. De, it’s a privilege.
One last question. Ever thought of changing the name ‘Mumbai Indian’ IPL team to something less attractive?