Sanyukta Maharashtra: Talk Show 1
Duration: 00:14:25; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 248.669; Saturation: 0.196; Lightness: 0.496; Volume: 0.068; Cuts per Minute: 2.704; Words per Minute: 99.903
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.
Anchor: Pushpa Bhave (PB), art and literary critic, teacher and social activist. Was a young student during the movement.
(Unfortunately the footage with her image has got spoilt. So we only have her audio).
Participants: Prof. Sadanand Varde (SV): Samajwadi (socialist) leader, economist, former state minister of education. Was in the
forefront of the movement.
Pushpa Trilokeka(PT): Journalist. Was part of the daily newspaper Maratha, which was considered as the mouthpiece of the movement.
Tara Reddy(TR): Communist, Member of CPI (communist party of India), also active in women's movement. Was active participant
of the movement.
Himmatbhai Zaveri(HB): Samajwadi (socialist) leader. Also part of the Gujarati community, which was largely against the movement.
PB: When we think about the history of any territory, then there are some punctuations and I think movements are the important punctuations. When we see the history of Sanyukta Maharashtra Movement, we don't just idly remember, we analyse what was thought and then after the movement what has taken place. To talk about this movement we have Sadanand Varde, which is an important name in Samajwadi movement, Pushpa Trilokekar, who was a journalist in Maratha, the mouthpiece of the movement; at a time when very few women were seen in journalism.
Pushpa Bhave, the anchor of the discussion introduces all the 4 speakers. She is not on camera. Unfortunately we have lost the tape where her image was recorded.
Studio in Dadar
language based state
sanyukta maharashtra movement
united maharashtra movement
Pushpa Bhave, the anchor of the discussion introduces all the 4 speakers (she is not on camera
Taratai's name cannot be separated from the movement, Himmatbhai, there is an importance of two types in Himmatbhai's being here - one he was in Samajwadi (socialist)movement and
Sanyukta Maharashtra started in Samajwadi movement and he was part of that Gujarati community, which opposed Sanyukta Maharashtra Movement. Speaking of me, I was very young, I saw the movement as a college student. But I was in Elphinstone college and all the Sanyukta Maharashtra Movement morchas (processions) used to end at Kala Ghoda (an important square) and Shahir Amar Sheikh's (shahir- means bard) call at Flora Fountain(town centre), could be heard in our college.
PB: Tell me Taratai, you were in communist movement, in which farmers and workers were an important part, so what do you think about that aspect?
TR: firstly this country of ours is very different. There are many states and they have languages. These languages are very developed languages. If you want democracy, then all affairs -be it court, admin, all have to be done in your language only then democracy can be healthy. Only then can you participate well in democracy. So when you ask about workers and farmers, this is an important point. So if you see in Sanyukta Maharashtra Movement, who were fighting with huge energy, with largest number of mouth pie workers! Because he was a Marathi worker. Farmers from konkan came because they were Marathi. We want the state affairs in our language only then we can rule on them. So this demand fitted the issues of workers and peasants perfectly.
Taratai talks about Importance of cultural identity of a working class in the class struggle
Konkan Region, Maharashtra
Himmatbhai talk about the rationale of language based state division and why he, though a Gujarati, supported the movement known to be for the rights of the Marathi people.
PB: Himmat bhai, you were in the movement since the independence struggle, so when this movement started, was there a gap between you and your collegues?
HB: my collegues were not only Gujarati, they were Marathi also. But this is true that when I supported the movement, they thought that I was not doing the right thing. They thought that I was getting influenced by my Marathi friends. But when I think politically also, I was agreed to the concept of states made on the basis of language. And then there was no doubt that Mumbai should go to Maharashtra. So I had taken this position with full thought and whatever consequences I had to bear among my friends ...
And the party that I was working in, socialist party, was also of this position that is why... and if I think this is a question of identity. So if my language is Marathi, but by region I am a Maharashtrian and this Maharahtrian part of me thought I was doing the right thing and that is why...
Pushpa B: and so the basis of this is not that of distance. So when we agreed to the division of states according to language that time it was a concept of administration as Taratai said.
Himmatbhai talks about the rationale of language based state division and why he, though a Gujarati, supported the movement known to be for the rights of the Marathi people.
PB: Pushatai, when you got into Maratha (a newspaper in Marathi edited by Acharya Atre), it was during the peak of the movement. How was that atmosphere during that time?
PT: The atmosphere was totally charged up. The whole of Mumbai and Maharashtra. The people were charged up. And there were no section. Workers, peasants and even students! Young students were fired up by the Sanyukta Maharashtra Movement. Students ready to go to prison. When I started work on Maratha, I thought that Maratha is a very big platform that the movement has got. And the reason for this is that all the sections of the communities came together because of this paper. Giving a crack to all the internal divisions among them. And I think the work done by Maratha, no other movement has received.
Puspa Trilokekar talks about the contribution of Maratha, the daily edited by Acharya Atre, to the Sanyukta Maharashtra Movement. The paper was considered as mouthpiece of the Movement.
PB: but do you think when you think back, that the method started by Acharya Atre, which was very effective at that time, but a little aggressive - that has now transformed into what we today call identity politics - the attempt to give a person or a region an identity and that too a singular identity, the transformation to this has come out of Atre's position or more so, his Atre's language?
PT: To a little extent, yes. But the main aim of Sanyukta Maharashtra Movement was not just to show the political power of Marathi people but for the Marathi person to assert his existence, he needs jobs, and whatever else... so this movement started out of an injustice.
Whether the passionate rendering of regionalassertion by Acharya Atre had, in a way, sown the seeds of intolerance and identity politics in the region.
PT. When there was bi-lingual state, they ratio shown in statistics that money was being spent more on the Gujarati person. And that is why, it was felt when my state happens my demands will be fulfilled - but this demand was not completed. And the reason for this is that even though Sanyukta Maharashtra was concluded the govt. at the center did not change its policies. The center's education policy remained the same and that is why the position of dignity was never given to Marathi language and it still remains in a second position. And today what I see is that, forgive me, you are a
professor yourself, but today people don't want to learn Marathi. The middle class, upper-class even the working class children want to study English, and why will they not want to do so? This whole situation is as Marathi language has not received the position that it should have.
Puspa Trilokekar asserts that the Sanyukta Maharashtra Movement began in reaction to non-recognition of Marathi language and the situation has not yet
PB: let's move back a little and ask Prof. Varde, because he has been a professor of economics. All this happened and is the reason for this the historical and cultural background of Bombay?
SV: Mumbai is the commercial capital of the whole country. This was Mumbai's characteristics. But this being so, the hinterland of Mumbai was completely Maharashtrian. And whatever rules were to be put down, that Mumbai or Maha-Mumbai (greater Mumbai) would become a part of Maharashtra was inevitable. Earlier she mentioned bi-lingual state and that is why I will tell you. "Maha-dwibhashik" (greater bi-lingual) - here there was struggle and the opposition came from Gujarat. In Gujarat they opposed the "Maha-dwibhashik" and there was a struggle for the Maha-Gujarat and this struggle actually gave a lot of strength to the Sanyukta Maharashtra movement. I remember to give support to Maha-Gujarat, socialist leader Anutai Limaye and her supporters went to Gujarat for a Satyagraha (non-violent protest method made popular by Mahatma Gandhi). Morarjibhai took a sabha (meeting)but section 144 (a clause used under which public assembly is banned) was imposed and not one person went for the Sabha.
Prof. Varde talks about the process of evolving the language based states. Even if Mumbai was recognized as bi-lingual, it would have become a part of Maharashra.
s. m. joshi
What I want to say, is that the way in the centre tackled this issue had fired this extreme feelings about language. I remember Chintamanrao Deshmukh , who was elected on congress ticket in Lok Sabha (parliament),in 1952, and he resigned and while resigning he said that I am doing this because there is, he used the word - animus - there is in the mind of central government an animus against Maharashtra, only because of Mumbai. Mumbai is the commercial capital of the country and just because of that to take her away from Maharashtra and make a state-city out of Mumbai, I will say is a plot of capitalist groups. I also want to say, that the leadership of the movement, has been done by S.M. Joshi, Dange. And S.M.'s character was so tolerant and so…opened out as they say and that is why he said, in this state the meaning of this being a Marathi state is that all have space here, there will be no injustice on anybody.
And when there were attacks on some Gujarati shops, that time S.M. opposed them. He would stay in areas like Kandewadi just to reassure people. And he had said, even if one Gujarati woman is proved to be raped then hang me. His position, was to take everybody along and Marathi people should be dominant, this was never in his mind. From that time till now, we have traveled quite a long way. I am ashamed to think that some people from Bihar who come here for work and they are beaten and sent back, this never happened during Sanyukta Maharashtra movement and is not the ideology of the movement.
It was an assertion movement but not a movement of intolerance
S. M. Joshi