Thursday, 14 February 2008

End Goonda Raj

The Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra arrested Raj Thackeray and then released him on bail.This did not prevent the departure of many non-Maharashtrians (10,000 at the last count) from Nashik and other cities in Maharashtra. It also failed to prevent the death of one Maharashtrian and the destruction of public property, such as buses, which were burnt, as is the ritual with ostentatious demonstrations of anti-government, if not anti-constitutional sentiment. Anti-constitutional, because the Indian constitution does not prevent a citizen of this country from settling in any part of this country. As a Punjabi from Delhi, I have every right to go to Chennai and take up a job there, as does any other Indian. We do not have a system of dual (national and state) citizenships, as exists in the US.

Let’s be very clear about a few things. The Thackerays, far from being the preservers of Marathi culture, are its worst enemies. They have done much to make goonda politics the politics of Mumbai. And they have done much to bring about an association between their brand of uninclusive Marathi culture and the goonda method of achieving a goal.

To bring an end to goonda raj, not just in Mumbai but all over India, those political parties that encourage their cohorts to damage public property, such as buses, hospitals and other buildings, should be made to pay for the replacement of said public property. Therefore, Bal Thackeray’s Shiv Sena, and not Vijaypat Singhania, should pay to replace the hospital at Thane that was destroyed by Sena goons when one of their leaders died there. And Raj Thackeray’s MNS, not the Maharashtra government, should pay compensation to the man killed in the riots that took place yesterday. He was, after all, a fellow Maharashtrian!

Talking of an inclusive Indian culture reminds me of this interesting article on the impact that Malyali women, who have married Haryanvi husbands, have had on their marital homes. As the author points out, these women are well-educated and employed. However, they are unable to find suitable matches in their home states due to the demand for heavy dowries. Many are able to negotiate terms to suit their needs. They have refused to participate in polyandrous arrangements, live in a joint family set up or follow the practice of female infanticide. Small steps, but let us hope that this is enough to bring about a change in Haryana, which is famous as the state where the buffaloes are better cared for than the women.

Maybe this is what our great regional satraps need to think about--that the creation of an Indian identity will bring about the union of opposites to create something better and richer than that which existed previously. If we think only of Maharashtra or Gujarat, Haryana or Kerala, we might very well end up with a disunited country--a situation very similar to the one that existed before Mahmud Ghazni’s or Mohammad Ghori’s invasions. It appears that the Thackerays, amongst others, believe with Henry Ford that "History is bunk"--if they inflict their belief on us, we will be forced to relive our history of repeated invasions and colonization.

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