Politics and Prejudice

In India, prejudice against people of different states is not unusual. The occurrence of recent political events in Maharashtra indicates that this prejudice is dangerous. Migrants of U.P and Bihar were thrown out of the state of Maharashtra by the self-proclaimed king of Maharashtra – Raj Thackeray. The government remained a mere spectator.

It is strange why no political leader, no social activist, no welfare organization came to the rescue of those almost-homeless poor. It is questionable why the UPites and Biharis were forcibly made to decamp from Maharashtra, when the constitution of India gives every Indian the freedom to settle in any part of the country. The answer lies in the fact that those people were targeted because they were powerless, they were poor; and not because they were Biharis or UPites — Shatrughan Sinha, Bollywood actor and politician and a native of Bihar, didn’t have to run back to Patna; Lara Dutta, a UPite by birth, was not chucked out of Mumbai. In any social disturbance it is always the poor and powerless, who have to pay and often with their lives or livelihood.

As if 10, 000 people losing their jobs and their homes did not satiate the founder of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and so Raj Thackeray, under the disguise of patriotism for Marathi language, created another hassle when Jaya Bachchan at the music release of Drona said, “Hum U.P wale hain, hum hindi mein baat karenge”. Maybe this MP should have played a little smarter and said “Hum Hindustani hain, Hindustani mein baat karenge.” The purpose would have been served without challenging the consequences. However, there seems to be nothing outrageous in this statement. In a democracy, one is free to express oneself in any language desired. But, Mr. Thackeray seems to have formed his political sena without understanding the real meaning of politics.

Down south, Telugus are determined to tatter Andhra Pradesh into Andhra and Telangana. This demand is irrational and unjustified. The people of the two regions speak the same language, follow the same customs and are both called ‘telugus’, but have called for the division because the histories of the two regions differ. Pre-Independence Telangana was ruled by the Nizams and the rest of the Andhra Pradesh was administered by the British Government and Madras Presidency. Post independence, during the government of Jawaharlal Nehru, on November 1, 1956, these two regions, of similar people living separately, were merged to form the present state of Andhra Pradesh. Soon after the formation of Andhra Pradesh into one single state, demands to separate Telangana region were put forth and since then the state is confronting difficult moments created by its very own people. Looks like George Aiken’s point is finally proven; he once quoted, “If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed and colour, we would find some other cause for prejudice by noon.”

It is not just politics that is driven by political factors. The education system of India is also under the control of politics. In every state, provisions for engineering and medical seats are extended only to the locals of the state and an outstation candidate has to take the admission through NRI quota by paying an enormous sum of money as fees. It is ridiculous that Indians living in India are branded NRIs. It feels like we are 29 neighbouring countries of a continent called India.

Every time one thinks of differences between one’s state people and the denizens of other state, one should consider that soldier who stands on the border of India braving death, not to save his native state but to save a nation made up of various parts like Bihar, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

Suhani Dewra

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