Monday, January 4, 2010

Jai Maharashtra - A Differing Perspective

Jai Maharashtra is a matter of pride for Maharashtrians and apparent discomfort for many non-Maharashtrians living in Maharashtra. Of course, the non-Maharashtrians rant it along whenever a situation of the sort arises but purely because they do not want to get into any squabbles with the local goons who refuse to indulge in any dignified discussion and have the least tolerance for a differing view. They simply get into a high-decibel drama and apply brute force. That doesn't mean it creates any more respect in the mind of the person being attacked, rather things become more a matter of going-through-the-motions, whatever goodwill the person had for the issue gets jumbled in the emotions arising out of being man-handled and so, the respect goes down the flush.

Does that mean it shouldn't be Jai Maharashtra anymore? Not at all. Maharashtra is not the property of these goons. But the more dignified mass of Maharashtrian society needs to stand up against this sad and sorry portrayal of Maharashtrian Asmita.

I am very sure that MNS and SS goons will not find it easy to assault physically such Maharashtrians.

Some may ask, "But Why Jai Maharashtra?". I ask, "Why not?". Every citizen should be proud of his inherited cultural background, provided he knows what that background is. He should then be motivated to contribute similarly towards the constructive nation building process.

Some may say, "That's regionalism.". Yes, it is. And Regionalism proposed to motivate people to feel the self-respect and contribute to the society in a constructive manner is not at all bad.

People do compare nationalism with fascism and nazism, giving rich accounts of Hitler's misdeeds on such a premise. I think thats not right at all to start with. When a fool gets the power in his hand, he can make an ass of any idea. Look at Democracy in India. Its not really much different. Voters are only trying to salvage things within the democratic tradition because that also appears to be the best tool allowing representation for the masses.

Too much of anything is bad, so they say. A concept of loving your own nation by hating others is not nationalism. Nationalism has a pre-occupation with our own nation and not with others. It is about behaving like any self-respecting man would and there's no self-respect in disrespecting others. It is about understanding your true past, the philosophy and the deeds that our ancestors did which are worthy of quotation to the new generation to motivate them to follow the footsteps and take that contribution forward through contructive means allowing for adaptation to new times, respecting the new emerging society and its needs.

India being a federal structure, must start recognizing the regional aspirations along with the national aspirations. Contribution to national goals will come from the various regions and those regions should find self-expression as part of the national culture. Nation cannot ask the people to forget what they are and have been. Its like taking away their identity. How do we expect a person to behave normally and contribute positively when he's completely confused about who he is?

When Pt. Nehru gave the slogan of 'Unity in Diversity' he clearly recognised the diversity first and emphasised on the need for unity without having to forego the diverse nature of Indian society.

But that diversity cannot be stated through violence as is the means chosen by MNS and SS.

A very large percentage of locals do not know their past with much clarity. They are unable to summarise the philosophy that guided the actions of greats like Shivaji Maharaj. For most of them, Shivaji is the beginning of Maharashtrian History. Many don't even know when the term Maharattha (Pali for Maharashtra) was first used. So, they hardly realise that Maharattha Pradesh was in existence even during the time of Ashoka the Great. Maratha is the changed form for Maharatthaa, the name for people who belong to Maharattha Pradesh.

All this has happened due to a culture of not respecting our history. By giving significance only to current affairs, today's requirements of our lives etc. and socially supporting it has caused the people to forget or never know what their ancestors stood for. In this loss of true identity, people display fake regionalism and nationalism. And this lack of knowledge takes away the self-confidence, which would have otherwise kept them focussed on delivering positively, and leads them to use brute force to assert and make others accept their point of view.

The lack of respect for our history coupled with lack of moral science has led this nation to create a band in this society that sets no limitations in their social behaviour. It has affected their ability to discriminate objectively between available alternatives to solve specific problems and more often than not we see vested interests, biases etc. guiding their decisions thereby harming others in short-term and themselves in long-term. Aspiring leaders are unable to open their eyes to ways in which everyone's interests are taken care of. We called this positive behaviour "bahujan hitay, bahujan sukhay" in the past.

What the proponents of regionalism and even nationalism must be concerned about is the quality of thought amongst the public.

1. Are the people thinking individualistically or are they thinking socially?
2. Do they really, in action, believe that good of the society will bring the good for the individual or do they think the reverse is true?
3. Do they seem more proficient in the matters of page 3 or do they seem to have a grasp of what kind of policies are being formed?
4. Amongst the below poverty line category, do they know the problems that plague them and ask the govt. for solutions to that or do they blame their problems on reasons that have no consequences on their current economic status?
5. Does the conversation they indulge in show a sign of solid self-confidence or do they want to grow on the back of reservations?

One can go on and on adding various questions to this list. We can also produce a list of questions that such leaders must pose to themselves.

1. Do they clearly understand their own role as a leader and a policymaker?
2. Do they understand the role of policymaking in the governance of the people?
3. Do they feel answerable only for the bunch of people they represent or are they able to grow out of that mould and add the entire nation to this list?
4. Are they able to grasp the needs of the people and is their policy making going in accordance with these needs?
5. Are they able to create a self-confident society?

They also have to be clear that having agreed to be a part of this federal structure called India, the national aspiration must take precedence over the regional aspiration. Regional aspirations that undermine the national aspiration will create an unwelcome imbalance and will always meet with strong social opposition.

In the population of 1.2bn we will find all shades. What leaders need to focus on is the shades that don't seem to be on the same page as the national and the regional aspiration.

I must also point out at this stage that these "isms" are being discussed on this blog only because I believe that these "isms" have the potential to unlock the true potential of Indian youth. The potential will be unlocked when our youngsters are full of self-confidence and don't feel the need to cut someone else's line to make their own line look longer. They will have the patience to let there line grow on the basis of their own capability and nothing less will give them the satisfaction of an achievement. If this task is possible in our country without these "isms", then so be it. The objective of these ideologies is more important than the ideology itself.

However, for now, I believe that Nationalism and Regionalism are important as history is not wanting of cases where leaders not keeping the nation first have always brought despair to its people. But that is a much longer discussion, which we will get into some other day.

Till then, Jai Maharashtra, Jai Bharat.

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