I trust you have read Rajdeep Sardesai’s open letter to Mr Uddhav Thakeray doing the rounds on the internet. Frankly, for two reasons I won’t be surprised if you haven’t. One, it is in English. And two, it is extremely well-written and very thought–provoking. If you haven’t read it I suggest you ask your children to translate it for you. Like the offspring of most Shiv Sainiks I presume yours too are studying in the most elitist of convent schools.
But first, let me introduce myself.
I am just a Stupid Common Man. Have you seen the film ‘A Wednesday’? You must, even though it is in Hindi. Nasiruddin Shah’s soliloquy at the end of the film where he spits out his pent-up anger against the system and all politicians will make your hair stand on end. He calls himself just a Stupid Common Man. That’s what I am too, as are the faceless thousands and thousands of us in this city. And like the Stupid Common Man, we are a very angry lot today; angry at your silly and immature antics, and angry at the city being held to ransom by your aging leader and his coterie of Yes Men.
I have tried to understand what your core values are, but I am stumped!
Let me spell out why.
Your agitation against Shah Rukh Khan, Rahul Gandhi, Mukesh Ambani and Sachin Tendulkar turned out to be as riveting as a deflating balloon. Nobody paid heed to your leader’s call, least of all we Bombay /Manoos /who you have turned into a kind of experimental guinea pigs in the political laboratory. What kind of wishy-washy, spineless, sloppy fellows are you! Sorry, Mr Shiv Sainik, the nation did not want an apology from SRK – far from it. They just want good, edge-of-the-seat cricket. And the nation showed what they think of your fading leader by making SRK’s film the biggest grosser in Bollywood. What Rahul G gave you gentlemen was a resounding slap-in-the-face by doing what your leader has never done – Rahul mingled freely with the ordinary /manoos/ in Bombay. Sachin endeared himself to the whole country by proclaiming that he was an Indian first. As for Mukesh Ambani, please await the next chapter.
Now let me tell you why we are an angry lot. Your creaky gramophone record about Marathi pride being hurt has ceased to convince us any more. During your current tenure at the BMC, 35 Marathi municipal schools were shut down. Is this your idea of pride? Rahul Bose (I don’t think you gentlemen have even heard of him) in a recent TV interview gave statistics to show that Bombay has already lost out to Delhi in virtually every department of administration. Forget Delhi, it is losing out to Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. Is this your idea of pride?
And your flip-flop about allowing the Australians to play in Bombay has many of us in splits. If you are against immigrants, surely you should be supporting racism in Australia! And if you are protesting racism in Oz, does it mean that you have had a change of heart about the North Indians? Is this pride, or total Alzeimeric confusion? Yes, we are angry at your threats to paralyse Bombay at the drop of a sparrow’s droppings. And, more important, we are angry at your wanton destruction of public property. Your loss at successive elections is enough proof of the adage “You can fool some of the people all the time, or all the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time.”
Now let me tell you why some countries are great and the others are not. This will perhaps appeal to you, if you have progressed beyond high school. You have probably heard of a country called USA – it is the most powerful nation in the world today. It is so because of the way it allows the human potential to flower and flourish. Leaders – in politics and in business - in the US come from all parts of the world. If you ever were an avid newspaper reader (real newspapers, not the Saamna variety) you will recall that there was a man called Henry Kissinger. He was a German refugee from the Holocaust, and he became Secretary of State. That Mrs Indira Gandhi gave him a bloody nose during the ’71 war is another story. But let me give you an example that you would probably relate to better. You surely have seen Arnold Schwarzenegger’s films. He flexes his biceps and can put Salman K to shame – iconic and breath-taking stuff for your stone-throwing, public property-destroying foot-soldiers. He migrated from Austria about 40 years ago determined to make it big in the US. Arnold is presently Governor of California. And there are several Indians in Obama’s (he happens to be the President of the US) administration, including a few Marathi Manoos (No, Please, Al Gore is NOT a Marathi Manoos). And their contribution to American society and economy is just enormous.
The point I am making is simply this: you can throw out the ‘outsiders’ only at your economic peril. All along you have been talking only about job reservations. Have you ever given a thought to job creation? Have you ever wondered why very, very few Marathi Manoos make it to the IFS, IAS, IRS and the higher echelons of the armed forces? It’s now high time you gave a thought to that, AND DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!
Now try to picture this. Bombay accounts for about 35% of the income tax collections of the country. This you probably know. What you probably do not know is that companies pay income tax in the city where their registered offices are situated. Now just imagine - and please try to do so seriously because we are not talking /kaanda bhajiya/ but real big mega stuff – what would happen if the big 3 suddenly decided to shift their registered offices to Baroda, or Bangalore, or Delhi? Do you recall the downfall of Calcutta when Charu Mazumdar and his naxalite thugs ran amok there? And the ruins of Uganda when Big Boy Idi Amin threw out the Indians? In economic terms it’s called flight of capital. The Tatas called Mamta didi’s bluff and shifted the Nano project lock, stock and barrel to Gujarat. That left Bengal gasping for breath. Mukesh Ambani is already talking of shifting his registered office to Jamnagar . . I leave the rest to your imagination.
And have you ever thought what would happen to Bombay if the film industry, what Bombay is really synonymous with, decided to move to Noida?
Sorry for being harsh on you, dear Mr SS, but I am just a Stupid Common Man letting off steam against your apathy, utter lack of vision and foresight, and utter lack of concern for us.
Now let’s see what you gentlemen CAN do. You are controlling the BMC for the moment. And I say for the moment because I see the Rahul G tsunami in the distant horizon fast approaching Matoshree. SO IT’S TIME YOU DID SOMETHING FOR BOMBAY! You have until 2012. Merely changing names of cities and roads and monuments, and creating an identity crisis for everybody, will not help. I’ve never heard you gentlemen talk of
·eliminating corruption, especially in the BMC that you presently control,
·giving us good roads and footpaths,
·parks and gardens,
·upgraded municipal hospitals and schools,
·uninterrupted water and electricity
All that I’ve heard is the tinkling of shattered glass panes of the IBN
Lokmat office, cinema theatres and of bhaiyya-owned taxis.
And you gentlemen have woken up to the existence of Vidarbha only when they started demanding a separate state. It just boils down to plain neglect; so much for your oft-touted Marathi pride. This polemics has ensured your survival, but it has not taken you very far. You are fast approaching a dead-end. In fact, when the obituary of the Shiv Sena is written what will be remembered will not be the flyovers you built, but:
·Bashing up south Indians
·Bashing up north Indians
·Digging up cricket pitches
·Damaging the only world cup trophy brought in by Kapil’s Devils
·Michael Jackson fund-raiser and the funds that disappeared
·Flight of capital and business (Hope you read ET. There must be a Marathi version)
But there is hope for you yet. *Start talking economics* and you may just survive the Rahul Gandhi tsunami. But above all, please read Rajdeep’s mail. If you survive you will have Rajdeep Sardesai to thank.
Stupid Common Man