Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why the Marathi manoos feels victimized

Polarization of societies based on linguistic, communal, religious, racial identities is one undeniable phenomenon in the fabric of human evolution. It is inevitable, and no amount of sloganeering and attempts to instill false pride in a concept much larger than the most natural boundaries is an attempt that is doomed to fail. Asking any given society or community to abdicate its identity and embrace a larger identity is thus a hopeless task. While the concept of India as a country with diverse factions has been an interesting cultural experiment, unnatural and hegemonistic perpetration of an “Indian” who speaks “Hindi” has constantly sought to undermine local identities. This is the primary reason why there is festering resentment in states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, the north-east and so on. The average national politician with any iota of power is always perceived to be from the Hindi belt, or with massive
support from the Hindi belt. The electoral numbers and constituencies (e.g. number of seats in the Lok Sabha for the Hindi belt) make sure that this hegemony is maintained. For day-to-day functioning of local state governments, Delhi is always perceived as the higher power; and success of any small endeavour is always considered impossible without the benediction from New Delhi. Since we love to throw around statistics, these are a few:

Prime Ministers of India
UP : 7 + 1*
Punjab : 3
MP : 1
AP : 1
Karnataka : 1
Gujurat : 1

*Rajiv Gandhi (Mumbai), was born outside UP, but is obviously identified with UP.

Contributions of Marathis to the freedom struggle have been several. 3 of the 7 most important commanders at the 1857 war of independence: Rani Laxmibai, Tatya Tope, and Nanasahib were Marathi. Marathi freedom fighters like Lokmanya Tilak, Ram Agarkar, Chaphekar brothers, Gopal Krishna Gokhale (guru of Mahatma Gandhi), Mahadev Govind Ranade, Swatantryaveer Savarkar and many others have played a pivotal role before people like Gandhiji or Nehru ever arrived on the scene. The Ganpati festival started by Tilak in Maharashtra was designed to be a front for meeting under cover to undermine the British activities, and plan reforms. Reformers like Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule (women’s education), Karve (family planning, women’s education), Agarkar, Tilak, Baba Amte have given a lot to India through their rich service. We all know the tremendous work by Shivaji Maharaj in cultivating the spirit of “Swarajya” (ownership by self-rule), and his fight against tyranny and unfairness in autocratic religious rulers.

In spite of all this, what does th common Marathi man perceive as the attitude of a north Indian towards him?

1. Oh, you are Marathi - so you must either be a house help who cleans utensils, or a fisherwoman, or an unemployed mill labourer, or just an uncouth “Ghati”.

2. Nerhu’s book disparaged Shivaji Maharaj’s great work, treating him like a common bandit. Nehru didn’t deserve the right to sit by Maharaj’s feet. Yet, just because of his elite education and British affections, to be perceived as a secular ruler, he had the gall to insult one of the greatest visionaries India has ever seen. (Quick Trivia: Shivaji Maharaj had a Muslim as his naval commander, and had British wait on him in his court. Before you paint him with a saffron brush.)

3. Swatantryaveer Savarkar, the pioneer of organized revolutionary fighting against the British terrorized the foreign rulers to such an extent that they had to jail him for TWO life terms. His books were proscribed before even publication. He was a so-called Hindu fundamentalist, but he was also an atheist. Guess how that worked, eh? If you need enlightenment and want to
read some of the most rationally thought out visions, please read his book on Hindu identity. He viewed Hinduism as a cultural identity than a religious identity. He was critical of religions who had allegiances to “one sacred place” before their own country. E.g. Christians and Jerusalem or Muslims and Mecca. I would do grave injustice to his works and memories by attempting to
put down into words the work of a lifetime. Just because he had tenuous connections with the murder of Gandhiji, he was outlawed. He was considered to be a dangerous person due to his political convictions, and he was never accorded any respect in any of the prominent national communities. How unbelievable is this - he was still in jail even after India gained independence.

4. In all Government departments, (I know, I have really close relatives who work for the Central Govt.), there is a very conscious and stark case of nepotism. Since several offices are located in Delhi, there is an increasing amount of favouritism shown to people that belong to your community rather than based on true merit. Naturally, since Marathi people have been largely
sidelined at the national stage in such offices and positions, a prominent or powerful Marathi person heading a Government office is almost unheard of. Most diktats are sent down from Delhi, and Delhi rules and micro-manages the tiniest details in every day functioning, right from bribes to incompetence.

5. The most prominent Marathi leader on the national stage? I can think of two, maybe three. In current day scenario? Sharad Pawar leading a lame-duck sports department. Prominent Marathi national leader in BJP? Pramod Mahajan, now dead.

So now add all of these feelings and perceptions and put in this already boiling and caustic mixture irresponsible and idiotic politicians such as Lalu - an abrasive comedian, Abu Azmi - a known supporter of Simi and terrorists, Amar Singh - another abrasive idiot who thinks being secular is being pro-Muslim and such people. What do you get?

Any Marathi person with any sense of history and cultural pride cannot ignore the severity, continuity and tenacity of such slights over a period of 60 odd years of “independence”. How is it that Delhi gets the best Metro under way and has a superb metamorphosis in terms of infrastructure, and Mumbai keeps getting sidelined in spite of being the commercial capital? How is it that Mumbai has areas earmarked for Bangladeshi immigrants? How is it that a humungous amount of the slum population is non-Marathi? Yeah, Raj Thackeray’s methods are violent and divisive. But where has your “unity” been for the last 60 years of belittling the Marathi man? Only when the suppressed and injured pride rears its head, does the “Hindi” Indian want to quickly cut the snake’s head off, to re-assert his dominant hegemony. A Bihari madman taking a bus full of innocent passengers hostage with a gun(!!) is labeled a martyr, and cops are criticized for performing their jobs? A man as superior as Savarkar is referred to by random people on internet forums by female anatomical parts?

People need to get a clue.


  1. I am a Bengali who has grown up in North India. Whenever one said the word Marathi in front of me, I immediately thought of Veer Savarkar and the story of how he swam all the way from the "Kaala Paani" prison.

    Using your logic, Bengalis should also harbor hatred against North Indians. No Bengali PM yet and I don't think I need to reiterate Bengali contribution to Freedom struggle. Using your logic, Bengalis have also been sidelined. Do you see them up in arms against North Indians?

    All the arguments you have made are for the sake of arguing only. Please stop this propoganda, there is no conspiracy against Marathis. Grow up dude. It really saddens me when evidently educated people write stuff like this.

  2. Abhik,

    Please do not think that I am trying to justify the need for taking up arms against immigrant North Indians. I am also not trying to spread any kind of propaganda against North Indians. However, several internet forums and bloggers (especially on had disparaged the Marathi community, trying to falsely imply that Marathi people have had no contributions and even had called Savarkar really bad names. This kind of tirade against Marathi people for the actions of politicians is disheartening. I am trying to identify the reasons why a Marathi person today feels victimized. West Bengal has consistently been dominated by a communist government, and has been pretty much insulated from the Hindi hegemony due to this fact. However, national development has always sidelined Mumbai unless it is for their own dirty votebank politics.

    Btw, Savarkar swam away from the ship that was carrying him back from England near the port of Marseilles, and not from Kaala Paani ;) But, I appreciate that there are non-Marathi people who respect Savarkar.

  3. @Abhik has answered to you very well.

    Your asnwer to him shows that your reasoning is like a school kid who is demanding some respect from his peers.

    I am from a very samll hill state with single digit MPs in parliament. So by your logic, we should have been rolled over by north indians, south indians , whatever indians. But hardly so.

    When in school I read about Shivaji, I never thought of him as marathi or anytihng. We studied him like other indiand heroes. It is only after I worked in Mumbai that I realised that he was so much appropriated by locals and made into a regional god. Please, let him be an indian hero first and foremost.

    And as Abhik said to you...chill out dudue. Exlore India and world. There is no conspiracy except in your mind. And remember it is election time.