Saturday, February 9, 2008

Raj Thackeray, MNS, Clashes with North Indians- Migratory stories

There are so many ways in which current fiasco of MNS lashing out at migrant North indians in Mumbai and state of Maharahtra can be seen and I believe that fundamentally it reflects conflict between two social groups happening because of pressures of migration and changing demographic profiles . It is a conflict to gain space, political and economical power, even though some of us would so easily blame it on politics and assume that everything is fine afterall if it wasn't for dirty politic played by few. But Politics is only played on faultlines that exist and more so in societies which have more of them, like ours.
Migratory Ways of Indians : In past century, we as human species have made amazing progress and forces of globalisation and ease of travel have led to massive cross-migration of people. Migration from one state to another, from one country to another etc. Not that migration of people is new. Evolution of species tell us how we evloved and how different races were formed and spread across the planet through migration. It is in animal's nature to migrate to places where it can find food and water and where its survival is most likely. Humans have not been any different. But as we know, with advancement in technology and healthcare and capitalist economy becoming more or less default way, migration of humans have been unprecedented in past 200 years. Think about it in our context, just around turn of last century, there were not many "indians" who lived outside of sub-continent and there wasn't a term called NRI (Non resident Indian). Now, indians are found everywhere and are conspicuous largely for their economic success (exept perhaps in Malaysia). They are in large numbers in UK where they are already in third generation. Malaysia has 9% of its population who are ethnic Indians (um..or shall I say ethnic Tamilians!) Indians are third largest ethnic group in Singapore. There is a huge population of indians in middle east (mostly from state of Kerala). In Mauritius , 70% of people are from Indian roots. Huge Indian population was found in east african countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania before some of them were forced out by local governments (remember Adi Amin). Large scale migration of Punjabis to Canada is something we all know of. Such migration is not limited to Indians alone but is also found across other nationalities, like chinese for example. As indians have gone to other countries to settle down, they have naturally also migrated within the country itself. Most of big indian cities have people from all parts of country. Some ethnics groups have been migrating for centuries ;like Gujratis are found everywhere where they could setup businesses.
Conflicts of Migration: Migration of people from one geography to another or rather from one social group to another start creating problem when there is contention for resources or a threat is percieved by host group that thier numbers would be undermined because of large numbers of migrant influx. At that point of time host group is bound to react naturally to protect its identity which could be based on religious, lingustic or racial or sometime combination fo them all. Some time the migration could be such that the migrant is much more powerful, hostile and violent than the host and host would be cleaned up wholesale to make way for migrants. Like it happened in America or Australia to name a few instances. But such events happended in medieval, ancient times. In modern time where nation states are more or less well defined and stable, the migration related conflicts manifest in various ways, mainly in terms of identity clashes. For example, UK after many decades of soft immigration policies now want to stiffen the rules. Xenophobia is rising throughput the world as a natural opposite force of migration and globalisation. Australia has a test for desiring immigrants to test thier "asussiness", . Few people in UK had mooted idea of "cricket based loyality test" to test Asian immigrants loyality. Nothing wrong with that perhaps, while in rome do as the romans do. But can a greek "become" roman if he is merely "doing" what a roman does! How does one become Indian or English! Do only whites of anglo-saxon stock qualify to be an English? Is Sonia Gandhi (a Catholic , Italian married to a Hindu-parsi Indian) an Indian?
Hyphenated-Identities In modern times, individual carries complex set of criss-crossing identities resulting from his/her affliations with diverse social groups. For example, One can be hindu (religion), born off Indian parents (ethnicity), citizen of USA (nationality) making him an American- Hindu- of- Indian origin. In some cases it can be as complex as American-Hindu-Indian-Gujrati-kutchi. Within India itslef , where we have staggering cultural diversity both ethnic and linguistic, the hyphens in one's identity can be mind blowing. Migration of people and cross-pollination (;)) have made question of identities more complex.
Problems with Inter-state Migration in India: So with Indians have been migrating to other parts of world for greener pastures, one would think that migration within the country , from one state to another would be an assumed thing. As an Indian, citizen can live and work anywhere in 26 states, as per constitution. But In India states are mainly formed based on linguistic identities and not purely from Administrative reasons. This means that state has an underlying sub-nationlism, making it a more cohesive unit than a state formed on purely administrative reason would have been. So when a person migrates from one state to another, even if it is neighbouring state, the dynamics of migration and resulting conflicts are more accute. That is the reason we see certain conflicts more in India than anywhere else in world. We are highly tribal and ethnically cohesive people, may be only less than Afgans. Remember riots which happened in Bangalore, city in Karnataka state , between Kandigas (locals) and Tamilians (migrants from neighbouring Tamilnadu)! Kanigads felt than Tamilians were ruling the roost in thier capital city and that they were undermining thier local culture. Tamilains controlled some flourishing business in Bangalore. Bihari migrant labourers are regularly killed by ULFA in Assam and most of Assames feel that bihari "outsiders" comes in large numbers and are threat to thier "culture". There lies the problem, our diversity becomes our bane. We can huddle around language, state, ethnicity, raise the fences and point out that "outsider" who must be kept out if our identity as a group has to be protected. This is potentially true for every state in indian union. The faultlines are there to be exploited by just raising bogey of culture, language being underthreat by influx of outsiders.
Story of migration in Maharashtra: The script being played in Maharashtra is familiar. Initially it was played by Shiv Sena in 1960 when mere 5% of South Indian migrants to Mumbai were occupying most of government jobs , possibly because they were more educated than the locals at that point of time. But large section of Marathi middle class at that time resented this fact (contention of resources) and that led to rise of Shiv Sena. Shiv Sena galvanised people by siting pride in local culture and making "others" from outside standout like sore thumb. Now script is same, but actors are slightly different. Now south Indians are gone (because they are running software companies down south or in US) and government jobs are with locals (and deservingly so) . Now target is low wage earnerers and north indian migrant who does jobs in unorganised sector, like driving 50,000 odd taxies in Mumbai and selling vegetables. The noise is still same, about marathi culture, language and pride beig undermined by Migrants. The same could be true in Tamilnadu or Karnataka or anywhere else in country.
It is free market economic and Identities are many: According to some Marathi historians, Marathis as community or group have always been low on business quotient. Even when Shivaji, the great maratha warrior was winning new territories , he would invite marwari seths to take care of business in new districts (Marwari anyway, is most business savvy community in India). In modern times, it was Parsi and Gujrati migrants who setup big enterprises in Maharastra (specially in Mumbai). Why did they come here? Answer is same ...for why peple migrate. Why indians go to US. Economic benefit, better life. Answer is stil the same why a poor north indian migrates to Mumbai and runs a taxi. Because he earns 4 times more than he could in his native and because there is still demand enough for him to ply his taxi here, meaning that demand is not met by locals. If a mason from North comes and charges less , it is becuase he is being competitive in market and that is resented by locals, just like Indian software programmers would be resented in USA. Migrants are usually hard working as they come to compete and earn and that can be a reason for locals to feel economically threatened. That is the primary reason. But since we are such an emotionaly wired people, we usually raise such issues with lots of emotional spice like culture and language etc. Most of times they are red herrings, specially in context of migration within a country. Why would a north indian migrant not learn marathi , the local language in Maharashtra! That is quite aburd because language is first based on need before it becomes an emotional issue. If migrant from north india can come here and speak with locals and his customers in Hindi, he wouldn't learn Marathi. It is not because he comes here with intent of insulting local language or culture. In fact, most of migrants anywhere are more law abiding since they migrate for economic reasons and dont want to get on wrong side of law or locals. And if one expects a north Indian or south indian or east indian or whatever indian, to become a Marathi or Tamil or Malyali after he/she migrate to respective states,then the question is who is a marathi or tamil or malyali? The one who speaks the language? Would that suffice if a migrant learns the language, eats similar food and dress same? Or would he only become a Marathi-Tamil or marathi-punjabi .........but he would never be a marthi-marathi or tamil-tamil ?
And in all this where does Indian get lost? That is for next post.........

10 comments:

nitawriter said...

Gaurav, this is a very well written article. You have given a very detailed background and it is accurate. You have also got the real problem, that the current situation is about the poor people in Maharashtra. I think you are the only one (besides me) who has written this. Much of the press has implied that it is the well to do do maharashtrian who resents north indians.
I don't entirely agree with the point you made though, that a immigrant cannot merge. He can never be like the local, true, but yes he can merge by learning language etc. Gujaratis for example have learnt marathi, celebrate ganesh festival and they are part of the maharashtrian identity and very easily accepted. Yet everyone knows that they are gujaratis. that's okay. it's like the example you gave of america. An Indian who speaks English and wears pants to work and has a christmas tree during christman can still be a Hindu and an Indian. But he will be able to related to the locals better. I am not moralising here. I am not saying anyone should behave in a certain way...I am saying that if he does, he has a better chance of being accepted.

Gaurav said...

Nita, I dint say that migrants cane merge. What I said is that question of identities is not as simple as learning local language or celebrating local festivals. A gujrati even after living in Mumbai for generations, would be known as Gujratis. The conflict b./w a local and him can still arise. Also , I have seen more poor migrants who learn local language faster than anyone else. The question is wheather we should start seeing megacities like Mumbai from just a language perspective!

Anonymous said...

The basic issue is socio-economic. Caused by mass scale and uncontrolled migration of unskilled or skilled labor from one place to another. Migrants will always take jobs from locals simply because they will work for less, live in temporary or shared shanties and work 24 hours. Their costs in their hometowns are much lower than in urban cities. This is exactly what needs to be addressed. Average Maharashtrian cannot afford to work for less because he stays with his family and sends kids to school and pays for higher costs in Maharahstra. It is simply not true that the North Indian workers are getting jobs because they are better, what is true is they are willing to work for much less and much longer because essentially things are much worse where they come from.

Maharahstra has been highly industrialised for decades because the locals have always been disciplined, skilled and highly dedicated workers. To ignore this fact and say they are not good enough and cannot compete is insulting to Maharashtrians.

Some pople are quick to compare the situation with migrants in the USA, convenienty forgetting that any visa based migration is basically a controlled one and aimed at filling the vacancies. What is happening is Maharashtra is simply unacceptable to Maharashtrians.

To simply view the violent situation from a law and order or communal point of view is ridiculous. These are just the symptoms.

Let there be no mistaking the fact that an average Maharashtrian does not care whether Jaya Bhaduri can speak Marathi or not. They are also not bothered whether the shop signs are in English or Marathi or Hindi. This has been one state where people speak Hindi to outsiders on their own. People who have lived here long enough would know this very well. They are more concerned about losing their incomes and about not being able to keep their kids in schools. They are being driven into a corner and into an impossible situation which threatens their livelihood.

People in Maharahstra are not communal, if they were then Shiv Sena would have ruled for more than 5 years out of 60 years post-independence. But the anger and frustration in Maharahstra is rising as they are being equated en-masse with MNS and labelled as, good-for-nothing, fascists and making un-fair demands. Their contribution to Mumbai is being rubbished with typical Indian arrogance. Gun toting mad men are being hailed as martyrs. Leaders in the North are ganging up and talking of punishing Maharahstra. The national media has resorted to a completely one sided reporting dictated by commercial compulsions. the entire country in general is up against Maharashtra.

Quite frankly the Maharashtrian people are feeling alienated from the rest of India like never before. Many are beginning to question the wisdom of remaining a part of India. The concept of one country works as long as people feel they have a common future and benefit from it. If these issues are not addressed sensitively and if interestes of Maharashtrian people are ignored at the cost of others, there is likelyhood that you will see a situation like in Kashmir, Khalistan and North East. If Raj is being seen as the new Bhindranwale then Indians need to understand and address the causes so that we do not have a new Khalistan. The only difference is even at the height of Khalistan problem I did not see the Sikh community being insulted and labelled like the way Maharashtrians have been in the last one year.

Gaurav said...

@anonymous

Migration is happening from villages to cities. Mumbai and Delhi gets lots of migrant labourers, both skilled and unskilled. As india become more urbanised, we will see more of such migration. Regardless of scoio-economic factors, migration is fact of life. Mumbai gets many migrants from hinterland of Maharahstra as it gets migrants form UP and Bihar.So how is issue of migration tied up with Marathis Asmita and other such fudge created by MNS?

I dont want to be too verbose in replying to you. But if Marathis are feeling alienated, so do many others. India as a nation is in danger of disintegrating on its own weight.


MNS is an evil force because it uses false propaganda and violent tactics to divide people. Nobody is equating MNS with All maharashtrians, but Marathis middle class has been conveniently silent on MNS tactics. I see MNS as a mini Taliban. They have thier own rules, and own way of doling out the justice (blackening faces, beating doctors etc). I dont see how they are future of Maharashtra.

Anonymous said...

come on and speak hindi 1st....raj thackrey ko banane wale marathi students jo unki respect isliye kartey hain kyun ki raj inko bina kisi competion ke naukri dilane ka waada karta hai...(ye toh kisi ko acccha lagega agar mai bogus student hu jo kisi competion ke laayak hi nahi hu). bihar n UP me jaa kar marathi students ko dekhna chahiye ki kaise woh apni study puri karney me din raat ek kar dete hai..woh marathi students ki tarah smoker, drinker nahi hote aur naa hi girlfriens ka chakkar hota hai aur agar love ka chakkar chala bhi toh priority me study hoti hai. wahan ke students yahi soch kar study kartey hai ki unhe govnment job pana hai. raj famous kyun ki marathi youths ka support unhe mila hai...jo study ki jagah masti kartey hai par unhe free ka job bhi chahiye. mumbai ki masti kisi se chhupi nahi hai..lekin companies or govnment sector ko best candidate chahiye jo unhe bihar ya up ka lagta hai...or exam toh openly sab ke liye hota hai ...obviously last me result aane par marathi's student bihari students ke muqabale khud ko haara hua paatey hain aur ye frustation nikaalney ka mauka unhe raj ne diya hai..rahi baat govnment ka toh mai bolunga indian govnment Raj Thackrey ke aage HIJDAA ban gayi kyun ki woh marathiyon ka vote nahi khona chahti...aur is baar ke election me marathi voters ne raj thacrey ki party ke logo ko winner bana kar proove kar diya ki marathis ki soch frustation me kitni ghatia ho chali hai...ek murderer ka sath de rahe hai log...pehle bihar me aise criminals election me winner hote the lekin ab bihar neetish kumar ke raaj me devlopment ki race me participate kar raha hai par ab maharastra me criminals ko winner bana rahe hain marathi voters, yaad rahe job me suitable candidate ko appoint kiya jata hai naa ki jawaani me hi buddhe ban gaye marathi untalented candidates ko...rahi baat badtey population ka toh woh pure india me population badd raha hai na ki sirf mumbai me...agar mumbai me 5-7 ghantey ka traffic jamm lagta hai toh patna ka bhi yahi haal hai..pure India ka population kam karo ..khud hi problem solve ho jayegi..agar wahan se sare bihari aur UP wale chale jayenge toh agle 10 saal me sirf marathi logo ka population itna hoga ki kisi ko jaldi job nahi milegi phir apne baccho ko dosto ko maar ke kahan bhagaoge? ye toh pure world me badtey population ke wajah se hai,..

Anonymous said...

lekin filhaal plz innocent logo ko jaan se maarna band karo...raj ke chakkar me marathi maanus haivaan ban baitha hai, ye mat karo..agar ye hijdaa govenment kuch action nahi le payi toh kudrat (The real God) badla lene ke liye taiyyaar hai) sazaa dega marathiyon ko...pure mumbai ko ...kabhi barsaat me mumbai ko dubo kar ,......toh kabhi mumbai me Terrorist ko bhej kar...samjhey ...? kuch din ki zindagi hai pyar se jiyo mil kar ...kya hindi aur kya marathi...sab toh ek hi hain...marathiyon ke mann me itna zehar bhar chuka hai ki pata nahi kaise nikaala jaye...atleast i hav no idea... haan ye keh sakta hu ki MNS n SHIVSENA jaise parties ko bann kar ke aur is tarah ka jo divide karne wali baat kartey unko sazaa de kar shayad kuch change laaya jaa sakta hai...aur haan...bihari "bhayya" boltey hai toh ye koi gali nahi hoti ye sab jaantey hain...bhayya toh apne bade bhaai ko bola jata hai matlab jo Tumhari MAA hai woh hi meri bhi MAA hai...par marathiyon ne itne pyar bhare word ko bhi ek gali bana diya hai....kabhi kabhi toh mujhe doubt hota hai ki marathiyon me koi culture bhi hota hai...jab ki woh apne history aur culture ki baat kartey hain...culture dekhna ho toh abhi bhi bihar aur up me jao ..indian culture mil jayega...kaise waahan ke log aaj bhi culture ke sath jeetey hain .,,,mai marathiyon ki humiliate nahi karna chahta par jo mujhe sacchaai nazar aati hai woh aaj likh raha hu..bahot kuch likh sakta hu..par nahi ,,,,marath0 "MAANUS"(maanus means agar insaan hota hai toh marathi mujhe insaan nahi lagtey kyun ki jis tarah se un logo ne hindicultured logo ka khoon bahaya hai..ya aise logo ko support kiya hai mujhe lagta hai woh maanus nahi vanmaanus ho saktey hai ya sanki pagal).. ok now leave it ...banao ek marathistan ...jaise pakistan bana...kam se kam ladaai toh khatam ho jayegi...

Anonymous said...

Today India is not developing as fast as China because of BIMARU states. ref - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BIMARU
BIMARU states are good for nothing. BIUs are arrogant, low on social indicators.. They are a burden to rest of India... Rather than developing their states, they migrate & work on paltry amounts, disrupting the living standards of locals.. They are hated wherever they go due to their culture and arrogance(not just mumbai, look at Assam, Delhi, Punjab, Karnatak, Goa, South states :) ).. For India to dvelop faster it should get rid of this cancer & let it rut like bangladesh

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