India Today: United we stand?

Pick any newspaper and the headlines are screaming with infighting, defense lapses and a country on the verge of a regional divide. And now take a sneak peak down memory lane.

1953: Telugu speaking population is up against the centre for creation of a separate telugu state to be carved out of Madras constituency (which comprised of TN, AP, Kerala and parts of Karnataka). Potti Sreeramulu undergoes a fast unto death for this mission. After his death Prime Minister J. Nehru is forced to split the constituency based on liguistic boundaries. This leads to the formation of other South Indian states too.

Time turner to 2009, another such movement almost created Telangana.

1961: Shiv Sena is involved in cases of rioting and disturbances in its fight for a division of Bombay state into Maharashtra and Gujarat. The bone of contention is the financial capital- Bombay city. With both communities having a strong emotional and business connect with the island city, the centre is at its wits end to solve this issue. The state is finally divided in 1961, with Bombay staying in Maharashtra.

Again in 2009, The marathi manoos pride rises in the city, this time with twin thugs Shiv Sena and MNS fighting hard to take ownership of the issue.

History does repeat itself! And more often than not, the actors are very much the same. Reading India After Gandhi provides a detailed documentation of all such events which have moulded India from time to time.

Apart from the events, the historian Mr. Ramchandra Guha has dwelled into the insights and thinking caps of the individuals from that era. It is indeed an eye opener to read about Pandit Nehru, a man who lived most of the pre independence era in the shadows of the great Mahatma. His ideas of taking the fledgling country forward are acts of great determination, patriotism. Equally intriguing is his rivalry with Sardar Patel and his miscalculation of the Chinese.

We have always had a North -South divide. We love calling him a "Madrasi", while down south, a "hindi" speaker is ridiculed and taken for a ride by rickshaw drivers. The truth is both parties are probably just carrying a legacy forward. The origins of this divide travel way back in 1950, when Nehru proposed Hindi as the national language, a tongue which people in the Southern states were unaware of. This led to demonstrations, strikes and mayhem which compelled Nehru to postpone this to a 15 year change over period. However, things got worse in 1965 (notable post Nehrus' death) and since then, the North-South divide, esp. TN, has been a battle yet to be won.

So, what have we done to treat this issue? A whole lot of damage! By criticizing/ridiculing the Tamil accent, we have ensured Tams never learn Hindi correctly. By making fun of them, they are forced to make friends with Tams only, and then we hate the regional groupism that Tams create. I guess a little sensitivity is a must for the majority community in such issues. Kudos to Batty, who has managed to win over this linguistic divide!

Similar is the case about Mumbai! Locals, typically Marathi speaking youth (most of them uneducated) have been thrown off the radar. With the shutting down of textile mills in central Mumbai, they lost their livelihood and never could compete with the more ambitious and ready to work youth of Bihar and UP. And now, there are striving to earn their space, their rights through historical means. Although, I do not support their case, I believe a little bit of cultural appreciation helps in solving most cases. Simply put, a marathi movie "Harishchadrachi factory" was India's representative to the Oscars. The movie can do wonders in assuaging the swollen egos of politicians. Let Bollywood stars promote this movie (which is a very good movie too) and help in reviving Marathi cinema in their own way. This way, the politicians will have no option but to put down their stand and it will foster cultural integration as well.

As far as Telangana goes, I believe the contention to most is the status quo of Hyderabad city. A new state is a boon for towns like Vizag, Vijaywada which have the potential to become cities as big and flourishing as Hyderabad.

We still have problems in J&K, internal and external... North East is neglected as usual, in spite of serious problems in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Nagaland.

And last but not the least is the growing headache of the Maoists. In states of Bihar, Jharkhand, WB and Orissa, Maoists have a clear presence and what is alarming is the violent means used to achieve their mission.

Isn't it a miracle that a country of 28 states, each culturally different than the other, bordered on militant intentions is still one!


Anonymous said...

Gud write up but Vizag aint a town. A 'town' with a Metro population of around 3 Million .

neha2go said...

wow...well worded...Its true that these religious and regional biases are not new! But what is rather painful is that the our generation is new, but.... with no new revolutionary, secular and unbiased views!!! Its a world of possibilities for one who is ready to put the effort ...but I pity those who just want to waste their lives fighting for a ridiculous and politically twisted cause and holding grudges..

Anonymous said...

Every state/community is guilty of the crime mentioned. But its unfortunate that in India we have the largest divide..Good fodder for bollywood!

Sai said...

amazing post...although I'm more of a sardar supporter as opposed to nehru.

I don't think bollywood has done anything to unify any divide and still portray stereotypes. Cricket has and always will unify this nation. Cricket and pakistan :)

atlee said...

@Sai: reminds me of the lunch talks at Patni. And tht day in 2004, when BJP lost the general elections


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