Tuesday, September 30, 2008

HDFC Sec in Marathi

HDFC Securities sent me an SMS that I can "buy and sell shares in Marathi"... Wondering if they actually segregated all the Marathi people to send the SMS or was it sent to all their customers?

What if Jaya Bachchan happens to be their customer?

Monday, September 29, 2008

1 more Bomb Blast - Malegaon this time

It is sickening to hear another bomb blast as I was about to go to sleep... 2 killed and 20 injured.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

“Down with Dow” say Warkaris

Warkaris are a sect in Maharashtra and parts of Karnataka who follow the Bhakti Tradition. These set of non-violent people consider Vithoba of Pandharpur as their main deity and Sant Dynaneshwar as their patron saint. So when these people take on Dow Chemicals head on, most observers were surprised.

The reason - Dow Chemicals is putting up a plant at Chakan not very far from Dehu – the birthplace of Sant Tukaram. The plant is spread over 100 Acres with an investment of over Rs. 300 Crores. Dow claims that this project will be used for research only and they will not manufacture anything here. So what’s the problem?

This project has been shunted from some first world countries and then from Korea. The Warkaris believe that this project will do irreparable damage to the local ecosystem that includes the revered Indrayani River. The fact that Dow Chemicals has a Dirty History (including its subsidiary Union Carbide's Bhopal Gas Tragedy, India’s worst industrial disaster) certainly does not help in building public opinion in favour of the project.

The protests, which started of in a peaceful manner, have started taking violent turn. As more and more political parties have started supporting the Warkaris, the Maharashtra Government has finally asked Dow Chemicals to halt the work.
3M wonders - Why does the Government not involve the local populace while taking such decision?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Maharashtra’s Capital Vs India’s Financial Capital

The Marathi-Hindi Controversy is essentially fuelled because 2 sets of people look upon the city as two different entities. The Marathi manoos sees it as Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra while the non-Marathis see this as Bombay, the financial capital of India.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pa"War" against reservation

Over the last few months, there is a rising demand for reservation for the Maratha community. Various politicians have overtly and covertly supported the idea. But the proposal is contradicting the very objective of reservation. Reservation is meant for the oppressed classes. Marathas are the traditional land owning class... so how can they take benefit of reservation? Their argument is that castes like Leva Patil, Agri & Mali too have been landowning caste and have got this benefit. With Gujjar reservation in Rajasthan, they are certainly hopeful.

Surprisingly, this week Sharad Pawar, the strongest Maratha Politician, has shot down the idea saying that he will not support "snatching away the morsel from the needy"!

3M wonders - Marathas constitute 33% of the Maharashtra's population... Already 45% of the population is benefitting from reservation... So who is left?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Toofan aur Diya

Midday has written an article to deplore the discount-for-Maharashtrians @ Diva Maharashtracha... First Restobar in the world to serve authentic Marathi cuisine.

Incidently, I have been to the restaurant 5 times and never got a discount. We spoke to the waiter in Marathi... but most of them have a Nepali accent and can't speak Marathi! Once Dr. Suhas Awchat did meet me and my wife at Goa Portuguesa (their sister concern) and said that the discount is applicable if we can sing a Marathi song or compose a उखाणा (A kind of Marathi Limerick). As neither of us have a poetic bent of mind, we had to pay the full price! He said that this was his way of promoting Marathi culture. I think Media is again unnecessarily fueling the Marathi-Hindi clash!

3M wonders - Thinking of discounts, I have seen a lot of hotels giving discounts to Doctors... is that unfair?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Now, Dutondi (Double Speaking) MNS Leaders

IBN Lokmat had a very interesting “investigative report”… They checked out the nameplates of different MNS leaders. Surprisingly, 3 leaders (Shishir Shinde and 2 others) had English nameplates instead of Marathi Patya.

Guys… practice what you preach!

After Hindi, it’s “Chini” for Raj!

To expand his political base in the run up to the National as well as State level elections, Raj Thackeray has decided to tour the Vidarbha region… his weak spot in Maharashtra. 2 days before his tour, Gopinath Munde dismissed MNS as a potential threat for the Shiv Sena – BJP combine. Adding to that Mumbai Police’s gag order disallowed MNS to have “Jahir Sabhas” during Thackeray’s visit. Most political observers were expecting the tour to flop given that Vidarbha has a sizable number of Hindi speaking populace.

Contrary to the expectations, most of the Thackeray Sabhas have got a spontaneous response from Vidharbhites… especially the younger audience. As Anna Hazare said in “महाराष्ट्र कोणाचा?”, a program on Saam Marathi, a Marathi TV Channel – “Raj understand the language of the youth and hence has an instant connect with voters in the 18-35 age bracket”

In Vidarbha, Thackeray lambasted the industrialization that has failed to give employment to local people but has attracted “outsiders”. Surprisingly, this time the “outsiders” are really outsiders. Wardha Power Project by KSK Ventures has given a contract to a Chinese company called SEDC. Usually in such projects the top management and engineers are Chinese while the labour is from the local area. But in this particular project even the bricklayers and the grass cutters are Chinese! Though the local media has been vociferous about the issue, no political party was ready to take it up. Thackeray obviously saw the potential and has raised the anti-Chinese banner. Whether this translates into votes next year is a question that only time will answer.

3M wonders - Is MNS’s new slogan “Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai”?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Forgotten Hero

Bal Gangadhar Tilak is considered to be the father of Indian Freedom Movement. His clarion call “स्वराज्य हा माझा जन्मसिद्ध अधिकार आहे” is still fresh in the Indian psyche. Though, i believe that the greatest contribution of this man to Indian Culture is Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav.

For writing 3 "antinational" articles in his newspaper, Kesari, Tilak was sentenced to 6 Years of imprisonment in Mandalay Jail in Burma – now Mynamar. Today is the centenary anniversary of this event । Ideally, either the Indian Government or at least the Maharashtra Government should have marked the occasion with some event in Mandalay. The least they can do is to keep a small memorial meeting in room number 46 of Mumbai High Court where his famous response to the verdict can still be seen on the walls - "In spite of the verdict of the Jury, I maintain that I am innocent। There are higher powers that rule the destiny of men and nations and it may be the will of providence that the cause which I represent may prosper more by my suffering than my remaining free".

Sadly, we have forgotten the founding fathers of Modern India!

TRIVIA – Tilak was jailed in the castle of Thibaw, the deposed king of Burma. Interestingly Thebaw was kept under house arrest at Ratnagiri – Tilak’s hometown!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Farmers take on the Ambani might

The decision of the Maharashtra Government to allow the SEZ affected farmers to have a referendum on the future of the SEZ is unprecedented. Though there are reports of malpractices by “Reliance Agents”, the move will certainly avoid a Singur like situation. The farmers are up against the SEZ because the long awaited Hetawne Dam has just become operational allowing them to indulge in a year round agricultural income. This means the full agricultural potential of the area has not been tapped.

The voting took place yesterday but the media reports seem to contradict each other. While Times of India reported that 6199 out of 30057 people have cast their vote, Loksatta reported that 85% people made it to the booths. This can probably be explained by the statement of the Raigad Collector, Nipun Vinayak "It does not mean that nearly 24,000 account holders did not submit their opinion. When it comes to agricultural land, one person may hold more than three to four accounts. Therefore, the exact number of farmers who have made their decision clear will only be known later"
Let’s wait and watch the Great Indian Democracy in action.

आर आर आबा, आता तरी थांबा

After a succesful run in the hinterlands the producers have taken the courage to launch the movie in Mumbai. The film stars Sadashiv Amrapurkar and is directed by his daughter Reema Amrapurkar. We will have to wait and watch to see if the rural theme is lapped up by the urban Marathi manoos.

The movie seems to have got a foothold in most of the multiplexes... with Inox @ Nariman Point giving it prime evening slots!

3M wonders- The title seems to have a pun. The state's Dy CM, R R Patil, is popularly called "Aba"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Maratha “Pirate” in Hollywood

One of the characters in Pirates of the Caribbean – at World's End (2007) is called Sumbhajee Angria based on Sambhaji Angre, son of Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre, the real life commander of the Maratha Navy.

3M Trivia - Kanhoji Angre's Maratha Armar (Naval Fleet) held sway over Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Dutch ships from Mallacca and Bali had to pay toll to pass through the Andaman Sea.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Maharashtrian vs Marathi vs Maratha

Most people use the words “Marathi”, “Maratha” and “Maharashtrian” interchangeably when they are not the same. You can be one without being the other. So let's try to define what each term mean-

Maharashtrian – Any one whose family has settled down for a few generations in the current state of Maharashtra
Marathi – People who claim Marathi language as their mother tongue
Maratha – A caste of Kshatriyas mostly concentrated on the central Deccan Plateau

Let's take 7 examples to prove this point…

#1 Atal Bihari Vajpayee – The former PM is a Kanyakubja Brahmin from UP
Maharashtrian – No
Marathi - No
Maratha - No

# 2 Korlai Creoles – A set of people near Alibag who speak in Kristi, a Portuguese like language
Maharashtrian – Yes
Marathi - No
Maratha - No

# 3 Bhagwantrao Mandloi - Former CM of Madhya Pradesh
Maharashtrian – No
Marathi - Yes
Maratha – No

# 4 Rajnikant – Shivajirao Gaikwad, a Kannada speaking Maratha who is now a Tamil Superstar
Maharashtrian – No
Marathi - No
Maratha - Yes

# 5 Jyotiraditya Scindia - the current Maharaja of Gwalior...
Maharashtrian – No
Marathi - Yes
Maratha - Yes

#6 Balasaheb Thackeray – The Shiv Sena supremo is a Marathi Kayastha (Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu)
Maharashtrian – Yes
Marathi - Yes
Maratha – No

# 7 Sharad Pawar - Maratha strongman from Baramati heads the Nationalist Congress Party
Maharashtrian – Yes
Marathi - Yes
Maratha - Yes

Hope this clears the air!

Friday, September 19, 2008

What's Hot? (TOI Supplement) - Cold shoulder to Marathi Nataks

"What's Hot" is a new supplement of Times of India that gives information on how Mumbaikars should spend their weekend... from films to restaurants and from exhibitions to theatre...

Speaking of Theatre, today's Edition has given details of 11 Plays... 3 English, 5 Gujarati, 3 Hindi... but no Marathi play! Those who are aware of the theatre scene in India know that Marathi theatre is very well developed and has a very strong tradition. (Only Bengali theatre tradition matches it.) My guess would be that at any given time there are more Marathi plays running in Mumbai than all other languages put together. So I picked up the copy of Loksatta (A Marathi Daily) to see how many Marathi plays are running in the city. You might be astonished to know that more than 20 Marathi play ads were there in the newspaper!
So the question is, why does “What’s Hot” give a complete cold shoulder to Marathi plays when English, Hindi and Gujarati plays hog all the limelight? Does the editor feel Marathi Manoos is culturally a 2nd grade citizen in this city?

Is MNS Listening?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

अटकच्या शोधात (In search of Atak)

There is an idiom in Marathi – अटकेपार झेंडा रोवणे… literally “Taking the flag beyond Atak”. Figuratively it means one has pushed oneself to achieve the impossible. Atak was the northernmost town in the Maratha Empire when it was at its zenith in the mid 18th Century. The fact that a Hindu power from the Deccan could hold sway at the foothills of Himalayas was unthinkable at the start of that century.

History Book Map

When I read this story in my 7th standard history book, I was fascinated with the idea of finding out where Atak was actually located and how does it look today. So in the pre-internet days, I had little option but to scour through the Oxford School Atlas (India Edition)… carefully looking at the India map. I started in a “systematic manner” by scanning areas north of Delhi… UP… Haryana… Punjab… Himachal… Jammu & Kashmir… but with little luck. Then I spent a few lunch breaks in the school library to see the bigger “imported” map books, if they could help me locate this elusive Atak.

Atak Fort

After a few weeks of frustrating effort, I finally decided to take my dad’s help. He nonchalantly said, “Why don’t you check the Pakistan map?”… What??? How can “our Atak” be in Pakistan? But my dad persisted on his view and I spent the entire Sunday “in Pakistan”… Sadly, I still could not locate “Atak”. Then Dad added “Brits have anglicized the names of a lot of Indian towns… so “your” Atak is now Attock!”
Pune and Atak located on Google Maps
Lo and behold! There it was on the map… just a small dot between Peshawar and Rawalpindi… 70 Kms from the capital of Pakistan! That night I slipped into a peaceful slumber… elated about the fact that the Maratha flag was once flying over what is today Islamabad!

Maratha Flag

3M Trivia - a letter from the Peshwa to Chhatrapati of Satara has a line - काबुल अणि कंधार आपलेच परगणे आहेत... "Kabul and Kandhar are our provinces"!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Maharashtra's Biggest Cultural Export - Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav

Ganapati Visarjan

Arguably the most famous export of Marathi Culture is the Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav. Earlier it was restricted to areas outside Maharashtra where Marathi speaking population was sizeable like Hyderabad, Indore and Vadodara. But in the last decade, this frenzy has reached all corners of India… from Kerala to Assam. In fact the visarjan scene in Allahabad was big enough to attract a TV report!

Gwalior Palace
Everyone knows that Lokmanya Tilak started Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav but very few people know that the concept comes from outside the boundaries of present day Maharashtra! The Shinde (Scindhia) Durbar in Gwalior used to have a grand celebration in the palace where people would congregate in front of a large Ganesh idol. Tilak obviously thought that this tool can be used to motivate people to interact with each other and take on the British. Today, Mumbai alone has 6000+ Sarvajanik Ganesh Mandals!

Gangadhar Gadgil passes away

We lost Gangadhar Gadgil (85), one of the doyens of Marathi Literature on 14th Sept 2008. He enriched Marathi Culture with his short stories, novels and plays. His autobiographical work “Eka Mungiche Mahabharat” won him the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1996. He was professor of Economics at Sydenham College and then went on to become the founder principal of NM College.

Salute to a man who wore many hats with equal ease… Literary Giant… Academician… Economist!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Marathi Patya

Suddenly, everywhere in Mumbai you see Marathi Patya (Signboards). Shops are clamouring to ensure that the local language is seen. Some have done it in a clumsy manner and some have done it with finesse… while some have stubbornly refused to fall in line. When we have a half-century-old rule that all signboards of a shop or establishment have to be in the local language (No restriction on use of other language), why was it not implemented? Even by Shiv Sena when it was in power? Probably it makes sense to raise the issue when you are in the opposition!

Interestingly, when you apply for the renewal of a shop license in Maharashtra, this rule is the first thing that is printed on the form. So why do government officials renew the licenses of non-complying shops? The argument given by some people was that Mumbai is an “international” city… and we need to maintain an “international look”! But even Beijing, Athens and Bangkok are “Intenational Cities” and they are not apologetic about their language… So why should we be ashamed of our language?

P.S. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Vodafone Logo in Marathi… something that I had not seen for its predecessors - Hutch and Orange!

Belgaum in Maharashtra?

Star Majha, a Marathi News Channel from the Star Group, conducted a contest (Bappa Majha) for all the Sarvajanik Ganesh Mandals in Maharashtra. During yesterday's telecast, they mentioned that the winner of the "Southern Maharashtra Region" was a Mandal in Belgaum! Either they are geographically challenged or are supporting Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, a pro-Maharashtra movement in Belgaum.


If Karnataka Rakshana Vedike gets wind of this, I see another controversy brewing!

Friday, September 12, 2008

From Mills to Malls

Marathi Manoos is inherently not entrepreneurial in nature. Obviously business in Maharastra is mostly run by non-Marathi people. A typical Marathi person would like to have a safe job and lead a "happy middle-class" life. Maharashtrians seem to believe in the age old Santavaani “Thevile Anante taishechi rahave”… Be happy with what you have, don’t crave for more. In the days of the yore, cotton mills employed a large Marathi population. Now these mills have been replaced with malls and most of the employees are still Marathi! In the new world order, these are the safe jobs.

More the things change… more they remain the same.

Cub roars louder than the Tiger!

The Anti-Bhaiyya campaign to Marathi Patya and now Bacchan Blockade, Raj has proved that he is chip of the old block. The Marathi masses, who felt that their "cause" has been abandoned by Shiv Sena, suddenly have a new hero! Even Marathi people who do not approve of his methods grudgingly admit that he is a rising star on the Maharashtra political scene.

In the post Bal Thackeray Era, Raj will just walk over and take control of Shiv Sena from the weaker cub. Power is never given... it is snatched. Chandra Babu snatched it from Laxmi Parvati and Jayalalitha from Janaki when the patriachs of their respective parties were no more or were weakened.

I see that happening sooner than later!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Take on Guddi

Interesting Article


Mumbai Konachya Baapachi?

Yesterday, the Mumbai Joint commissioner of Police thundered “Mumbai kisi ke Baap ka property nahin hai…”

Toh kya aap ki property hai?

Dutondi (Double Speaking) Media

Newspaper and channels are supposed to be unbiased and are supposed to give true picture of the events going on in the society. But recently they seem to be running after circulation and TRPs. Obviously the “Marketing Guys” are driving them and hence they write or say what would be “saleable” to their target group. Recently a lot of Marathi news channels have been opened e.g Star Majha, IBN Lokmat and Zee 24 Taas. They have diametrically opposite viewpoints on the Raj-Bacchan row from the national channels owned by the same media house e.g. Star News, CNN IBN & Zee News. Obviously they are playing to the gallery!

Finally I start!

Since last year, I was planning to start a blog about Marathi People and Maharashtra... a unbiased reporting of things I see happening in Maharashtra. With the Jaya-Raj controversy boiling, I think it is high time I started putting my thoughts online.


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