Sanyukta Maharashtra: Talk Show 4
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Summary: The Sanyukta Maharashtra Movement in 1950s, was the most important post-independent political movement in Bombay. The movement received active support from parties and groups whose ideological base ranged from radical left to the centerist. Popularly it is referred as a movement for assertion of the rights of majority language group - Marathi, and thus the inclusion of Bombay in the Maharashtra state is considered as the victory of the movement. But actually the historical period at which the movement picked up momentum was a junction between the existing vibrant trade union movement in the city and the beginning of identity politics in the region. We felt it is important to revisit the movement in order to understand the present social scenario. A discussion session was organized between various active members of the movement. Though initially the discussion centred around the overwhelming reach of the movement, by this time it moved to the issues of post-colonial patterns in our public life.
PB: When one speaks of Satyajit Ray, it is said that he was a Bengali - still he could become international, he was acceptable all over the world. His example can be put to good use at this time and age. I'd like to ask if Himmatbhai, who as a person is llways thinking outside the box, to comment on... if that is possible?
Has Mumbai ever been cosmopolitan? Aren't all the neighbourhoods known by the pre-dominant community who live there?
Studio in Dadar
HB: putting the question of identity aside, what you said about Mumbai's cosmopolitan class - these people of different languages and religions - they live in our areas. The sort of cultural exchange that should be taking place, in fact, do not happen. If the Marathis are in Girgaon or Dadar, the Gujaratis at Kalbadevi, Muslims at Bhendi bazaar; we as citizens don't tend to meet each other. Even politically active individuals such as ourselves, the level of interaction is quite limited beyond a certain point. The concept of cosmopolitanism and universalism would mean more than what we see over here. Despite being cosmopolitan, in the prevailing conditions in Mumbai as of now, there is an awareness and an identity of being Marathi. That is definitely there. And the cosmopolitan identity is also present. How the two meet and gel, remains to be seen. It is an important question.
PB: young people say that they are global citizens... But there is no land beneath their feet, they are from nowhere. This is causing a rift between everyone. There is one question that a Marathi man has always asked himself, although not truthfully, is that where does he stand in a global economy? Is this what we are considering while looking at job prospects?
Who is a global
Citizen - the buzz
word today among
PT: I feel it is still like... our children, when they go abroad, they go for jobs primarily... business aside, students first primarily go to enhance their skills, to learn, to study and to get jobs. They go to American, Australia, New Zealand. These decisions are primarily based on monetary issues to secure their futures.
PB: I will ask Varde as he is economist... This situation that exists, unless it is answered will the issues concerning Maharashtra be answered?
... our priorities are changing. And therefore students need to be given literacy with the new aim of giving them skills and making them independent.
The importance of providing skill oriented education. Is there a conflict between basic literacy drive and skill training such as computer
SV: It is a valid question. I feel, children's education, after 10th standard has a certain responsibility to live upto. How to make students successful and independent in the real world, this sort of orientation is absent in our education system. UNESCO has said, "What is education? Education is not to know, but to do."
The Maharashtra govt has established a Knowledge Corporation to promote computer literacy. My point is, where there is not even a basic cent percent literacy being achieved, with 20 lakh children in Maharashtra not being in classrooms, how can you talk of computer literacy? Somewhere along the way, our priorities have changed, I feel.
The importance of providing skill oriented education. Is there a conflict between basic literacy drive and skill training such as computer literacy?
SV: I will say a memory that I have - in this respect. The education system of today and its benefits have been taken over by urban middle class especially, the corporate class. P.G. Patil, who is a product of education system. When he sat for the inter exam, he got the first award for English. He said that time that I have won the wrestling with Rajabhai Tower. So what does it mean to win the fight with Rajabhai Tower? We need to understand. What I want to say is, the establishment of Maharashtra state, has taken place 44 years ago, even then that education should reach the lowest levels of the society and become a medium of change - this has not yet happened.
Higher education still remains an elitist privilege due to dependence on English in higher education
HB: In this respect the issue of development - what is your approach to development - one is the western approach and the other is the Gandhian approach. This problem of creating employment opportunities, it cannot happen with today's development model. The figures of Economic growth are different but the situation of development is very unsatisfying.
The lopsided development
TR: but this approach that everything is opposing, e.g. Primary education versus computer, etc. the whole history of mankind shows us that whenever new technology comes the older technology collapses and newer one takes over and that is the way mankind develops. Then mankind did not have control over this, but now we have control. So whoever is in the rule must keep a balance in this, literacy should come, primary education should come and computers should also come.
Technology is part of human evolution. New technology is not essentially against people. Globlalisation is killing all diversity.
Because now globalization has come, computers have come. Many houses have computers, even in slums. How are you going to stop this? The younger generation will not listen to you. You have to create a balance between these things. Second thing, regarding globalization we have to start a big resistance. Globalization is destroying diversity. This resistance we have to start. Human cultures have developed through thousands of years, and it has got variety. Variety in languages, in foodstuffs,
in harvests. And therefore English... unilateral, like America which has become a unilateral power in the world, like that English - all the other languages, from the smaller ones to the bigger ones, it will destroy these languages and we have to start this big resistance.
Globalisation is homogenizing people's cultures and languages and trying to bulldoze the world into a flat and unilateral place with one hegemonic power ruling all over.
PB: In globalisation, there has been attempt to homogenize the food habits of cultures by dropping packets of noodles in Iraq. But the second part of that is I think, since the advent of globalization, racist wars have increased. Be it Bosnia, Puerto Rico. Or may be that global power encourages race wars. I am not saying this, but a lot of experts in America are saying that. On the one hand, destroying bio diversity and on the other hand, the old colonial practice of destroying people - both have been used through race wars. That is why this atmosphere of last few years of breaking up people and aggressive violent public speeches, unless we stop this we will not be able to see a direction ahead, this is what I think.
With globalization is increasing race war and intolerance. "garv se kaho" ("say with pride") - a reference to the slogan of the extreme right wing parties, BJP and Shiv Sena: "garv se kaho /hum Hindu hai" ("say with pride / we are Hindus). It is almost a war cry. The movement against communalism counter it with:
"prem se kaho / hum insan hai" (say with love / we are human). Cultural identity is specific and deep and thus universal and inclusive.
Just now there was a reference to Gandhiji, but I think a lot of times, when such problems arise, we have to go back to him. Be it when thinking about environment or about human arrogance - to belong to a certain group and to be arrogant about that belonging - are two different things. So in "garv se kaho" ("say with pride") - we are opposing the "garv", the aggressiveness. So the thought of Marathi people that evolved in / since 19th century, or earlier than that in 13th century, the culture that started with Dyaneshwar; not to think of that but to be trapped in tokens and signs, is a sign of the collapse of that culture. This has been done by the right wing parties and so it is the responsibility of us who believe in progress to examine what is Marathi-ness and articulate it. And while articulating it, it is not opposed to something; it is a relation that we have with ourselves and with history.
TR: I want to say that all this globalization…has been going on since long time we are becoming aware about it just now. But what newspapers are there now, are all rackets! All the big capitalist groups own a newspaper. I will not take names. But everyone knows - you see the name of the newspaper, and whatever the policy or ideology of that group, that is the policy of that newspaper. You think people see all this very coolly or because they have some great need? The answer is no. In this let alone other people. Earlier you said, Satyajit ray has a Bengali soil, but I want to add, it is not Bengali soil, but universal vision of human mind, human life.
I met an afghani girl and she told me that every Sunday morning at 9 they play Satyajit ray's films. So we complete our work and sit in front of the TV. at 9. That girl had seen more Satyajit Ray films than I had seen. This was before the Taliban. So this is universal soil, not Bengali. I want to say that to counteract this, to oppose this, even earlier, to give resistance to such capitalist big newspapers, there used to be these small magazines, there was almost a revolution that they created. (PT: little magazines) this movement spread all over the nation. Small groups would present their thinking through these. Even today how many magazines, weekly, some is called parivartan, vatsaru, some are of dalits, sangathana... the identity of all small groups has awoken. Today also this spirit is alive and people are not quiet, they will not let America win!
international news groups
Mumbai is losing its importance due to lack of industrial development.
PB: Himmatbhai, you are in Mumbai for many years, where do you see this Mumbai going?
HB: Mumbai's cosmopolitanism has weakened a little. Secondly, the identity as industrial and commercial capital has also not remained as it was before. What happened to textile mills, so the industrial development has become less. If we see places like Gujarat, Baroda, there industrial development has been more rapid. Mumbai's nature... I feel Mumbai has come to breaking point.