Mumbai has always been known as one of the few Indian cities which easily accommodates people from different places and regions. Its like the melting pot or if one were to say the potpourri of different cultures, languages, people etc. Hundreds from all over India be it Bihar, UP, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Assam everywhere arrive here each day with dreams in their eyes to build a great future for themselves. It is the home of the largest movie industry in the world (Bollywood), home to icons such as Sachin Tendulkar and Amitabh Bachchan, the territory of the one of the best examples of supply chain management in India (The Dabbawallas), the Financial Hub of the nation and so much more. The 26/11 attack in Mumbai was an attack on the heart of the nation.
Politics like any other city of India has played an important role in its development and if you may call it destruction too at many times. Bal Thackeray formed the Shiv Sena in 1966 based on the militant ideology that Maharashtra belonged to the Marathis and they should be given preference over the migrants from other states. Over the years, this ideology of “Marathi manoos” became little bit less extremist as the party expanded to a pan – India base and aligned with the Hindutva agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In all this, the Shivsainiks (Shiv Sena party workers) became infamous for different agendas be it opposing Valentines Day celebrations, opposing the movie “Water”, ransacking offices such as Zee News, digging the Feroze Shah Kotla pitch in Delhi, violence against Muslims and what not.
MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) was formed in 2006 by Raj Thackeray, nephew of Bal Thackeray because Raj felt that Shiv Sena had fallen from its former glory since it was run a few petty clerks. Even though MNS and Shiv Sena are different parties, both stand on the same “Marathi manoos” ideology. In March 2006, he unveiled his agenda for the development of Maharashtra as well as the “Sons of the Soil” theory.
Sadly, the party has been known for all the wrong reasons till date. In 2008, the MNS workers attacked shopkeepers and workers from North India as well as Bihar. They beat up North Indian candidates appearing for the all India Railway Recruitment Board exam in Maharashtra. Jet Airways was threatened by Raj Thackeray to take back the probationary employees who had been shed in a cost cutting move. Abu Azmi, the richest MLA in Maharashtra was thrashed recently inside the assembly for taking his oath in Hindi (even though the constitution says that a minister can take his oath in Hindi which is the official language of India unlike what was said by an MNS worker, English or a regional language).
Gandhiji – I know most of you will be like why am I talking about that man here and what is his relevance in today’s world. Well, he worked for the Indian independence so that all of us be it Kashmiris, Gujaratis, Tamilians, Assamese everyone lives with a sense of unity. Politics has played a key role in any piece of development in our country. Interestingly, India has the highest number of political parties in the world. Over the 60 years since our independence, our nation began to divide on the basis of caste, creed, religion, location, colour be it reservation for religious minorities or scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST), ill treatment of SC/ST, sons of the soil theory in MP, Maharashtra, Andhra, problems between North and South Indians and what not.
We always say that we face danger from Pakistan and terror groups located there. But I think, our biggest problem is within. Though it may sound cliche, but I would still say this – “We all say that we are Tamilian, Gujarati, Marathi, Malayali, Bihari and what not but very few of us really say that we are from India”. Till the time we have this point of view we would continue to be weak in front of any nation in the world.
Our politicians are supposed to work for the development of human kind. Be it Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi everywhere there is the need to improve infrastructure, sanitation, education and basically the overall quality of life of the people. Its always said that our country is rich but the people are poor. Despite so many pressing issues to solve, the politicians of today are sadly engaged in promoting the “sons of the soil theory” which basically destroys the concept of a united India.
I would like to end with a small line from Chetan Bhagat’s recent novel – “2 states – the story of my marriage”
“My sons are neither from the state of Delhi nor from Tamil Nadu. They are from the state of India.”