Sons of Soil – Is it still needed in today’s cosmopolitan Mumbai?
When Mr Donald Trump won the Presidential elections in 2016, a youngster from the BMC ruling Shiv Sena put out an status on his Facebook page, that Sons of Soil is a reality and something that was accepted and voted for by the Americans as well. USA which has so far been the most progressive democracy in the world in terms of its social literacy voted for someone who said Americans first and then others. Even the whole world might rue at it now, but the fact of the matter is that this man is now elected as the most powerful man of the free world.
In India, Tamilians have voted for their Dravidian parties since 1967 without giving an inch to the national parties to enter their land. Maharashtra has had their most tallest mass political leader in Mr Bal Thackeray who from 1966 to 2012 championed the cause for the resident Marathi Manoos but eventually had it sidelined post 1990 when the nation was going through a Hindutva wave.
Needless to note, that the Hindutva agenda helped him win the 1995 Maharashtra assembly elections (the only time his party could win it, despite being the most impressive orator of his time). His estranged nephew Mr Raj Thackeray started his own party MNS in 2006 with the same agenda. But after initial success in 2009, the party went on a downhill something that is yet to be resurrected. So that brings us to the question that is it still a bankable agenda for winning an election?. It isn’t, But does that mean it can be neglected. Definitely not.
Mumbai has been the dream destination for all folks in the country who wish to make it big in this country and abroad. It started with the inflow of Sindhis post partition in 1947, then the Tamilians in 1950s and then the mercantile class of Gujaratis, Marwadis & Punjabis in 1960s. Shiv Sena was formed in 1966 to arrest the growing influence of Tamilians in the job market (Maharashtrians have been traditionally a working class (blue and white)). Even though their numbers dwindled over the years, it is still an issue for Shiv Sena/ MNS. So where did they go wrong?. Are the Maharashtrians at fault?. Perhaps yes.
Maharashtrians traditionally boast of having decorated people in arts,music,sports and culture. The legacy continues till date too. However, they live in silos and don’t believe much in community building and benefit of their community. This was one of the primary reason why the mercantile class developed such a strong foothold in this city. Secondly, they are one of the most mercurial people when it comes to work. They are hardworking as well as defiant too. Something that caused lakhs of mill workers to lose their jobs post the Textile Mill Strike in 1982.
The North Indians who came in 1980s capitalised on this and have developed such a strong foothold in the organised as well as unorganised sector that the unrest against them led to MNS toeing the agenda something that Shiv Sena had started against Tamilians in 1966. But who is responsible for situation worsening for the locals from 1960s to 2017. Even though Maharashtra became the numero uno state in India (which it still is), the local population wasn’t even considered the architect behind it. I being a Mahasrashtrian myself would not only blame the leaders of that time but also self too.
As i mentioned earlier, the silos living cost us big time. When Bhuj had a earthquake in 2001, miilions of rupees flowed from Gujaratis to Gujarat for its Reconstruction. Dozens of colleges were started by the mercantile class in Mumbai for their communities and we Maharashtrians stupidly advocated that we don’t have any quota anywhere. But does that mean there is no way out now for the locals?
They are the ones who built the city. They are the ones who provided the two most important factors of production i.e Land & Labour. Even though the politicians failed in their duties, its time the current local population shred its traditional traits and do what others who came from their far off homelands could do in Mumbai. Yes if it requires hard-work, perseverance and risk, so be it. Instead of breaking taxis and buses, we should look for better education, better jobs and better business avenues.
The time for cribbing that our jobs and businesses are taken by others is over. Jews after losing everything post Holocaust could still build Israel and make it most dominant and tough sectarian power in Middle East despite growing influence of Islam. It is achievable; only the mindset needs to be changed.
As for the governing class, the least they could do is promote the local youth by initiatives like Skill India, Start Up India & Make in India with certain relaxations for the local youth. This is something can be reviewed once the community can uplift itself. It can use the permit system in cities like Mumbai to regulate migrant influx since the the load of the city is about to break; something that was proven in August 29 floods and September 29 stampede.
No doubt any person is free to work anywhere in the country but there needs to be a stopgap somewhere. Yes the locals are not getting opportunities (due to controllable and non controllable reasons). If this is not checked in time, a civil war is the inevitable thing we are inviting. Instead, legislative decisions as I mentioned above can be the best way to create a balance between all classes and so that all the classes leave in harmony for centuries to come.
No doubt, The mercantile class is credited for making Mumbai the financial hub and Maximum city. With regards to Rajnikanth , I am proud that he says he is a Tamilian even without he being born one. That is how one should be. Thankful and grateful towards the land which gave you everything. Aamir Khan and Akshay Kumar have shown great love towards Mumbai and Maharashtra in the recent times.
Also would love all other Mumbaikars who have made their fortune here after coming from different parts of the country to have such gratitude and love for this land which gave them everything. Because, it doesn’t make sense to proudly say that Mumbai is there due to us and if we go Mumbai will come to a halt. Instead, they should be grateful for all what this land has given them.
We all are spokes of a wheel and we all need each and everyone of us for our success. No one should try to take others space and then only we can achieve the ride of development in a true way.
Lets together develop each other by removing entry barriers, embracing everyone and working towards making Mumbai as a city like New York where locals along with migrants have had just share of resources & opportunities for centuries till date.
Jai Hind!!!! Jai Maharashtra!!!!