Atanu Dey On India's Development

Mr Raj Thackeray

I have been asked to write my opinion on Mr Raj Thackeray and his party, MNS. He is the nephew of Mr Bal Thackeray of the Shiv Sena and has been in the news of late because his followers have been attacking migrant labor from northern India to Mumbai.

Raj Thackeray appears to be a misguided, evil-minded politician. The reports I have seen are from the English language main stream media and therefore, to my mind, highly suspect. He apparently has provoked his gang of supporters to attack non-Marathi people seeking jobs in Maharashtra. Recently, a few people have even been murdered.

According to some people he is a problem and should be locked up. He should be tried and if found guilty, locked up for good. However, I think that he is not the problem but rather that he is a symptom of a larger and deeper problem that he is not responsible for.

Raj Thackeray is a bit player in a much larger political game. Had he been more shrewd, he could have been a national politician and a hero like the rest of the politicians in India. He could have been a Nehru or even a Gandhi. The problem with him is that he is impatient and not too clever.

Raj is playing the same game as the more seasoned politicians in India but as an amateur.

Take Dr Manmohan Singh, the figure-head prime minister of India. Dr Singh does what he needs to do to get votes. His strategy is simple: pitch one religious group against another and be assured of one religious voting block — the so-called minority vote — will support him. Dr Singh is playing the same game of divide and rule that the British overlords of India had perfected. Dr Singh and his Congress Party present an excellent example of why the politics of division work. That Raj Thackeray, a two-bit local Mumbai politician is following in the large footsteps of Gandhi, Nehru, Indira, Rajiv, and the rest of the unmentionable gang of unprincipled immoral politicians should come as no surprise to anyone even slightly familiar with Indian politics.

It is hypocritical to say the least to be shocked at what Raj Thackeray is doing. He did not create the dismal conditions in Bihar because of which millions of Biharis have to migrate out of the state seeking the most menial of employment. Hang Lalu Prasad Yadav for that crime. Raj Thackeray is not responsible for the dismal infrastructure of Mumbai. Hang the policy makers who extract most of the wealth that Mumbai produces and ship it off to support failing states across India. Raj Thackeray is only responding the only way he knows he can — by fueling the xenophobia that is latent in every human being.

I am not a fan of Mr Raj Thackeray. I think he is a fool. But before I demand that he be strung up, I have to inquire why the others who are guilty of much greater crimes than he is are not only roaming free but have the temerity to sit in judgment of Mr Thackeray.

  • AG

    It would seem that no one has taught our media how to think. Hence the ad nauseam parroting of the term “hate crimes”

    I guess Saudi and vatican money does that to you.
    They’re the best people to learn from on the subject of “hate”.

  • garib_ram

    “Hate crime” is a term that is used when someone is attacked – not for any of his individual action, but – for being a member of a community or a group.

    If taxis of a particular group are smashed or their shops vandalized because of the crime of belonging to a particular group, then it is exactly a “hate crime.”

  • Dsylexic

    Hate crimes arent new to the goonda brand of politics in Mumbai. In the 60s it was the lungiwallas from the south.Thankfully there was the Gulf jobs boom and the south indian migrants got diverted to the gulf.Not that it helped the Marathi manoos.The mills shut down and Vapi industrial zone was created -the jobs went away when the workers went away. The original mumbaikars are the Kolis. I dont see any Koli leader beating up anyone?.Why does a migrant like Thackeray have any right to decide who gets jobs in Mumbai.Speaking of demographics, the Gujjus have not only settled into vast areas of Mumbai,but have dominated the wealth making areas of business from dalal st to diamond trading to all the little Jain kiranas in Borivali and Ghatkopar.Why isnt there any problem against the Gujjus ?.The migrate in huge numbers as well.The speak Gujju all the time.Infact Mumbai lingo is half Gujju based.
    How different is a migrant from Latur or Beed from Mungher or Dhanbad?.Mumbai is not a marathi heartland.If Morarjee Desai had any more balls,Mumbai would have been the capital of Gujrat.

  • Amit

    I second you, as usual. Lets have some fairness, let Lalu build bihar and lets see if Raj Thackeray stills attacks them:)

  • vishu

    Amit – Even if Bihar is build Raj’s of the world will find some body to hate. It is the firm though wrong belief of politicians that by dividing votes they can win elections. I am surprised at the so called fair judiciary of India but then again we have Congress,RSS , BJP, Mandalites all who have done this before and got away scot free. Nothing will change in India.

  • garib_ram

    “I second you, as usual. Lets have some fairness, let Lalu build bihar and lets see if Raj Thackeray stills attacks them:)”

    Amit: This is like taking the hate agenda at face value. Recall that in the decade after independence when status of Mumbai was disputed between Gujarat and Maharashtra, Gujarati was considered the ‘enemy’. In 70′s South Indians became the ‘enemy’. Though neither of them were economically or socially backward.

    Economic or social status of ‘enemy’ is irrelevant. All you need for the hate politics is some group defined as ‘infidel’ by whatever criteria.

  • rummuser

    The problem here is far more insidious than it appears. There is every likelihood of Marathi as a language disappearing from Mumbai. The reason why leaders from the Hindi belt are up in arms is that they believe that Hindi is Rashtrabhasha and all the other languages and people speaking those languages are expected to stand up and salute these cow belt netas who wish to do to Mumbai what they have done to their own states.

  • PoojaNair

    I am interested to know your opinion about the mainstream english media a little more. why do you suspect them?

    Would you trust marathi media for instans more?if so why?

    Mumbai like the US is a land of immigrants. From before the time rajkapoor’s ‘Sri 420′ was made in 1955.

    There are more gujrati’s in mumbai than biharis. As there are east and south indians.

    Please tell me why you think Bihari’s are specifically targetted?

    I am a malyalee and i lived off the Mumbai resources for 4 years. Give me a good reason why i should not have been beaten to death on a crowded local train?

    Don’t people who work in a state also contribute to the economy of the state?

    You are the economist. Please enlighten me.

    The tea-shops and corner shops are dominated by south indians
    the film industry by punjabis
    the ad industry by bengalis and malyalees
    Ambani and biyani set up their empires out of mumbai.
    Surely these facts have ocured to you too Atanu…

    Please confirm to me, are you really justifying the violence in mumbai?

    Do you really sympathasize with Raj Thakerey?

  • garib_ram

    Pooja:

    I don’t see Atanu anywhere justifying Raj T. OTOH, gist seems to be that Raj T is just one among many evil minded politicians. Some consider him more evil than others; some do not.

    But I appreciate your stand. People don’t have any problem in condoning and even encouraging violence as long as it is directed against the “other”. Challenge is to treat violence per se as condemnable. There cannot be a place for any righteous violence in a civil society.

  • pankaj

    get lost you all, except atanu dey you dont see the real problem it is Overpopulation, the curse of india, the root of all evils of present day india,do u think raj thackeray and sundry other politicians,reservations would have been there had we had people in tune with the resources we have.Think

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  • orrorin

    I’d like to know if restricting jobs opportunities only to people from a particular region and preventing those from other states from appearing for recruitment exams is a hate crime or not? Or do these people parrot about hate crimes only when taxis are smashed or when shops are vandalized? If violence is to be protested against, why be mute spectators to injustice?

    To label any of the agitations against Gujarati’s, South Indians and now North Indians is to mis-characterize an essentially economic issue into a law and order situation and so long as the mainstream media and their gullible followers refuse to look at underlying causes, no good is ever going to come out of this.

    Dyslexic claims that original mumbaikars are Kolis. Pray tell me if the Kolis are not Maharashtrians? If these Kolis are not Marathi-speaking, are they speaking Gujarati? And are you absolutely sure there no Koli’s amongst the hordes of MNS?

    Dyslexic, there is no problem with the Gujju’s because Narendra Modi or other Gujarati politicians don’t come to Mumbai during the Navratri’s and claim “Gujarat tho hamaari hain, ab Maharashtra ki bari hain”. This is true for many other communities as well. A migrant from any part of Maharashtra to Mumbai is different from those from other states because he is fully entitled to opportunities that are being created by policies of a state government that he has elected to govern. State governments of Bimaru states do not have the political will to dismantle their entrenched feudal systems, to control their population, to provide a stable law and order environment and more importantly to create jobs. Instead of using the Indian Railways to send goods that can be manufactured in their states, they are instead sending their labor, not to mention that they are using recruitment in Railways to violate the rights of other Indians at equal opportunity for jobs. As far as the issue of the number of Morarjee’s balls is concerned, I believe that issue was resolved back in 1960. Besides, what Morarjee did with the product thereof has also been very well documented. But, if you are still miffed about Gujarat’s loss of Mumbai, check any political map of India and see how deep Mumbai is in Maharshtra wrt Gujarat. If you are still not convinced travel further north from Mumbai and visit places like Saphala or Kelve-Mahim (yes, Mahim like the suburb on the western railway) and you’ll see just how Maharashtrian these places are.

    Pooja asks why should one trust the vernacular media more than the mainstream media. I don’t think Atanu is saying that one should, but does it hurt to look at the other side of the argument or are we condemned to judge based on one side of an argument? Personally, I still view the mainstream media with a healthy dose of skepticism because they tend to put a spin on news to suit their agenda. (Read my blog manooski.wordpress.com for some specific cases.) And it’s not just Maharashtrians who are at the receiving end; even Bihari’s feel the same. If you ever get a chance, watch the documentary, “Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the media”; you’ll find even the ‘left of the liberal media’ tend to carry their own agenda.

    Pooja, I’m amused at your statement that Mumbai is a land of immigrants. I suppose we should ask the French to send us a statue of liberty. If as you say Mumbai is a land of immigrants, then, if I may borrow the quote, it is of the variety where ‘we didn’t land on plymouth rock, but plymouth rock landed on us’.

  • Dsylexic

    Kolis are marathis ,but supplying fish to residents of mumbai is not their god given right. I know why many kolis are up in arms.it is because bhaiyyas land up at mazgaon at 4 in the morning and home deliver fish . kolis are loathe to do so. so they find it easy to kill competition in the market by attacking the new bhaiyya fish mongers.
    as to gujarat and mumbai: mumbai is less than 2 hours from vapi.not that deep into maharashtra at all. the capital of maharashtra could be aurangabad or something deep in the hinterland.

    thackeray is not a mumbaikar. he is a migrant from the hinterlands of maharahstra.his contribution to mumbai is probably zero and maybe negative. the people that flock to him are usually unemployed youth -not marathi lovers.
    i am sure none of the MNS chaps have even read one book written by Pu La.

    it was exosed that the advertisments for the railway exams were advertised in marathi papers as well.so i dont know where the urban legend of jobs being snatched away arose from.

    the biggest nonsense is that it is an economic issue: nobody is preventing any marathi entreprenuer from going ahead and setting up business.the BMC is mostly staffed by marathi speakers -so the canard of localites not being given local jobs is bogus.

    the biggest nonsense is that the migrants from other parts of maharashtra flocking to mumbai are somehow special. thats the israel for jews and pakistan for moslems theory.migrants everywhere are individuals looking for a better opportunity.usually they are the most hard working and usually end up benefiting the economy. xenophobia is the oldest refuge of the scoundrel.
    just because someone was born in an illgoverned state like bihar doesnt take away his right to seek employment outside bihar. otherwise why even have a concept of a nation. why states even?. you could reduce your illogical argument to absurdity till all you care about is your immediate family and your housing society.

    i have no problems with Mumbai politicians fighting it out with Lalu or any other politicians. it is the politicians of the chatt puja variety who may be causing problems -not the lad form hazipur looking to fill his stomach.

    the irony of it,thackeray lawyer is one mr choubey.and the pandal that thackeray launches his diatribes from are made by bhaiyya laborers.

    i remember how karunanidhi raised the same outsider bogey against MGR for being a palakad mallu -MGR pointed out that karunanidhi himself was from andhra.he had to pipe down.

  • http://manooski.wordpress.com orrorin

    Dyslexic, in your previous post you said, “I dont see any Koli leader beating up anyone.” and now you say “I know why many kolis are up in arms.”. Can you please make up your mind? I’m glad at least now, you are conceding “Kolis are marathis” and you previously said “The original mumbaikars are the Kolis.” … I hope that settles the issue in your mind that the original mumbaikars are Marathis! :-)

    Hmmm .. as far as your argument for Mumbai’s distance from Gujarat border/Vapi is concerned, well let’s see … Mumbai is also a couple of hours from Patna, if you happen to get a flight fast enough under ideal conditions.

    As far as where should Maharashtra have its capital, leave it up to the people of Maharashtra to decide where we want it to be.

    Thackeray is not only a Mumbaikar but also a Maharashtrian. He, like any other ordinary Maharashtrian, is as much responsible for the state of Maharashtra having pro-development policies as the people of UP/Bihar are for the policies of their state governments. The only difference is that Thackeray wants Maharashtrians to benefit first from those policies.

    I’m not a MNS supporter myself, but you are deluding yourself if you think that MNS does not include professional Maharashtrians as well. Watch some of the debates on CNN-IBN and NDTV, if you get a chance. In any case, I’m quite amused by the fact that you are keeping tab of who is reading Pu La and who isn’t.

    If job advertisements were made in a couple of Maharashtrian news papers, how come we never heard of any Maharashtrians who were called for these exams? Are people so dumb to believe that Maharashtrians don’t go for government jobs? If these railway jobs were meant for Western zone, why were the majority of the students not from the zone? If these jobs were not meant for the Western zone, why hold them in Mumbai in any case? If Maharashtrians can get adequate opportunities in the defense services, which are also offered by the central government, are we to believe that Maharashtrians some how detect working in the railways?

    Dyslexic, you asked “nobody is preventing any marathi entreprenuer from going ahead and setting up business”. Have you ever noticed how nepotistic the business culture is in India? How a shopkeeper will only hire workers from his community? How only 2-3 communities dominate broker licenses on the BSE? How most of the middle-men of the trading community tend to be from a handful of communities? Look at the instances you quoted in your first post. If a Vikram Pandit, a person of Maharashtrian origins, can sell his hedge fund to Citigroup and become the CEO of Citigroup, how come we don’t find the same kind of diversity in Indian business and financial circles?

    I think one has to suffer from an acute form of dyslexia to some how conclude that the issues that afflict the common man are not economical in their core. The problem however is not with the migrants but with the people, politicians, bureaucrats and governments, who create migrants out of their citizens.