Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lessons from Barcelona

I have been reading for quite some time that “Marathi Parochialism” will lead to decline of Mumbai as the Business Capital of this country. Also, arguments that “Marathification” of Mumbai will be the biggest impediment in “globalising the city”.

Let’s look at Mumbai – Maharashtra - India equivalents in the world…

Montreal – Quebec – Canada
Munich – Bavaria – Germany
Barcelona – Catalonia – Spain


All are cities of commerce in provinces that do not speak the “national language” of their nation. These cities assert their different character from the national mainstream (even antagonistic at times) and yet have not lost the attractiveness as commercial centres or tourist magnets… In fact all three have been host to the much coveted Olympic Games, arguably the ultimate symbol of a global city. This shows that a regional identity does not mean “bad for business and tourism”.

I would like to present some lessons from Barcelona, the city of commerce in Spain and also the capital of Catalonian Province. The region has always reflected pride in having an independent language and culture from the main Spanish stream. In 1939, after the Spanish civil war, General Franco usurped the power and started suppressing regional identities like Basque and Catalan. Franco’s “Nationalistic” drive ensured that Catalan culture and language was suppressed to a large extent giving rise to a resistance movement. Catalan was prohibited in schools and babies could not be given Catalan names! After Franco’s death in 1975, Catalan pride resurged with a great bang and the new constitution had to accept Catalonia as a separate “nationality”. Within 10 years, Spanish was almost wiped out from street signages to school textbook. Today all the government communication is in Catalan and you have to “request” for a Spanish version. Please note that half the population of Catalonia claims their mother tongue to be Spanish and not Catalan!

The assertion of Catalan pride (equivalent of Marathi Asmita) reached its peak when the city of Barcelona hosted the 1992 Olympic Games. The locals insisted that the announcements have to be made in Catalan before they can be made in any other language. Even the placards carrying the names of the participating nations during opening ceremony had to have the country name written in Catalan!

So what’s the point I am making? Many a times, the “National majority” fails to understand the regional sentiments and imposes what they feel is right. Biggest example is of Han Chauvinism in China. We have seen how forced imposition of Hindi in the 1960s led to Tamil backlash. Today, I see that Marathi Manoos is feeling swamped by others… especially people from UP and Bihar. He is sniggered at when he speaks in his mother tongue in public. Earlier, it was considered to be a Mumbai phenomenon where "assimilating with other cultures" is a way of life… but with semi-urban and rural centres feeling the heat, there suddenly seems to be an anti-Hindi sentiment spreading in Maharashtra. Statement by the Yadavs and Mayawatis of the world like “UP to ek jhaanki hai… Maharashtra abhi baanki hai” has fuelled the current Marathi vs Hindi spat. Raj Thackeray is using this plank to establish himself in Maharashtra politics and seems to be succeeding in his goal.

It is high time the central government looks into the matter seriously to understand the ground realities and takes steps to assuage the fear of Marathi Manoos.

3M is worried that the undercurrents of this anti-Hindi movement in Maharashtra are stronger than what most people would like to believe. If the pressure builds up, a "Catalonian backlash" could be felt in Maharashtra.

3M Trivia – Catalan has only 66 Lac native speakers while Marathi is estimated to be spoken as a primary language by over 800 Lac people across the globe.


The Lone Wanderer said...

agreed that marathification of the city ..for instance the signboards will not affect at all the commercial prospects of Mumbai. Thats a highly misplaced notion.State for all official purposes should use marathi and english.Both are the need of the hour.

However, there are a lot of things that seem to be misplaced with the asmita issue too..

What franco did in barcelona cannot and will not be done in maharashtra.
Marathi is language of the state administration. All form of government documents, publication etc are published in marathi.
marathi is the second language atleast in all ssc schools which is perfectly fine infact beneficial.
Icse and Cbse too have it but im not very aware whether its ther till 10th std...
i bet Franco's regime didnt allow any of this at all in barcelona when it comes to catalonia....

The Lone Wanderer said...

That Jhaanki statement of the yadavs and mayawatis is absolutely abominable. But what about the statements of Bal thackerey and raj thackerey about the biharis.
"ek bihari sau bimari"

if the entire populace would be associated with the statements of the yadavs and others of their ilk...then im afraid to say that the thackereys too speak for the marathi populace....

which is an absolute case of gross generalization.

mayawati and mulayam have political ambitions in maharashtra. whats wrong in that. they are self proclaimed national parties and they are within their rights to contest elections from any part of the country. this does not mean i endorse their politics. infact i hate them. i hate them ..i hate them for what they have done to the state of UP and Bihar ...and i also hate the thackereys and many others of their ilk for what they have done or rather not done for my home state.

when raj thackerey is called parochial, i dont think there's anything wrong in it. he is using his excellent oratory skills and dynamic personality to create a divide and sow seeds of hatred in the minds of the marathi people against the biharis. He is taking the easy way out by sticking to an idelogy that is gross example of generalization

i have tried to be as objective as possible . if it doesnt come across as that. pardon me...i think ill have to try more...

i also agree on the fact that the centre has to take some concrete steps to assuage the concerns of the marathi people.

But i think the thackereys, the deshmukhs and pawars have failed them more than the gandhis and the vajpayees

BharGo said...

I agree that Franco’s extremities are not being faced by Marathi People! All I am saying is that when people feel that they are “pushed in a corner”, they tend to react differently… and tend to be more aggressive and parochial! Tamil response to the Sinhalese chauvinism in Sri Lanka is a classic case. Steam builds up over a period of time and one single event can release it causing immense pain to all. I am making a case that central government should take steps to dissipate the tension building up by speaking to Marathi Manoos. But, Rajiv Shukla (Congress) made a statement that Vilasrao should be replaced by Kripashankar to give a fitting reply! Hello… are we still living in the Mughal Empire?

I am ok with Samajwadi party coming to Mumbai as a National Party… but that is not the case. They come here and tell “Uttar Bharatiyas” to rise and make their presence felt. Chhat Puja is "Shakti Pradarshan" for them. In 2005, Jaya Bachchan (SP’s MP) had moved a motion in parliament to separate Mumbai from Maharashtra. Such actions are seen as hostile gestures by Marathi Manoos. If Mayawati and Mulayam have political ambitions in Maharashtra, they have to address the 9 Crore Marathi Manoos in addition to “Hindi speaking Maharashtrians”… I think Mayawati is at least making that attempt by speaking of “Sarva Samaj”. Please note that at no point has this blog said that what “Uttar Bharatiya” politicians say is representative of what Hindi speaking population of this country believes in.

SS & MNS are regional parties and hence are speaking to their Target group in their state. (Don’t agree with their tactics or language though!) But, if they hold a rally in Hyderabad telling all Marathi people in AP to rise with lathis, you can be rest assured that the Andhraites will bash them up!

On your last point… You cannot compare regional leaders like Thackerays and Deshmukhs with National leaders like Gandhis and Vajpayees… But I agree that most Marathi politicians are spineless. When "ek bihari sau bimari" is said in Maharashtra, all Bihari politicians protest in unison but when a Bihari MP said in parliament that “Maharashtrians have rotten brains” not one of the 48 representatives from Maharashtra could protest… no wonder Marathi Manoos is drifting to MNS and Congress is solely to be blamed for that.

Please do keep on commenting… it will keep me on my toes!

Anonymous said...

Good article. We Tamils will fully support our Marathi brothers.

The root to all problems is Hindi Domination in India because of which Hindi people settling in other state do not learn the resident state language and use the resident state language for their communication because they feel their language is the primary language of this nation. The concept of 'Nationality' that we have built in India needs to be re-looked if we want One India.

Here is the message to all North Indians ::
If a lie is told thousand times, it cannot become a truth. Hindi is not our national language. Pl note that our Constitution has not allowed declaring of Hindi as our national language.

India is a multi-lingual country. So, please understand that we need to represent India to the outside world in it's true form. Everybody in the world should know that people of India speak multiple languages based on their geographical states and have diverse culture. The world will certainly appreciate the country if we truly live up to the spirit of 'Unity in Diversity' concept.

Let us not project the country as one nation with one language, one religion and one culture. In our country, this "Unity through Uniformity" concept is shortly referred with the word 'national' and gives a falsified notion of the country to the world. Projecting thru the Uniformity concept means that we are killing or giving secondary treatment to all other languages, religion and culture of the nation. It also means that people having a particular language (hindi) as their mother tongue will have all favours and services done in their language through out the country. Then the concept that every Indian is equal goes off - because hindi speaking people will form the primary citizens of the country and others will be secondary citizens.

Hindians (hindi fanatics - those who want hindi to be spoken everywhere) should stop being selfish and instead of promoting their language can think of promoting the concept with which the nation has been formed. Pl stop hindi fanatism in all forms. Hindi people should try to learn the language of the state they live in and communicate with the locals in the language of the resident state.

Pl fight for a unified India through "Unity in Diversity" concept and drop the "Unity through Uniformity" concept as it will certainly divide the country on long run.

Krishna said...

I was just compelled to write about the last post from A Tamil..
To let him know that Hindi is India's National Language, just like tiger is national animal (it does not mean tiger should be in every village/State of India). As far as North India is concerned. Do you think all have Hindi as their mother toungue. You are worng my friend. In UP there are so many local language - Awadhi, bhojpuri, Banarasi; in bihar - magathi, Maithili, bhojpuri etc.. all these people speak different languagees; but they are always taught one language that is Hindi.

Now Back to the original post, Bombay/Mumbai was developed by British and Delhi as business capital and every Indian has same right there.. I hate when a politician from North india makes a comment to take lathis or wharever, But when you have objection why not beat that politician.. Is it right to beat a person who has no relation with that politician... In my community there are few Marathi families and they speak in Marathi.. do you think I have rights to beat them up.. Never.. What Raj is doing can not be justified in anyway.. Mumbai is business capital and if people can finds job in Mumbay they have every right to take that Job, just like I found a Job in Chicago and I am here....
How far you people wants to take reservations, did you guys read a story about Golu(32 Rank in IIT-JEE and still unable to get his dream - computer science)??

Also why Biharis and UPs.. do you think Tamils speaks Marathi in Mumbai? do Gujju?.. Rule should be same for everyone.. what will happen if all Gujratis moves out of Mumbai?? think about the consequences and please think boarder.. Killing innocent people is NOT justified in any form..

Vijay said...

Recently watched a Bojpuri film award distribution function on an odd hindi news channel whose chief guest was singer Udit Narayan along with some prominent Bhojpuri star he sang a song which included a line "Maharashtra me hoga Bhojpuriyan ka raj". I was shocked. Still in 2011 these people are dreaming about takeover of Maharashtra.These people can make such statements only because Mahrastrian people are tolerant. Such incidents only expose the deep rooted criminality in these people.


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