The evening news flashed on the T.V screen: “The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader, Raj Thackeray, has attacked veteran Bollywood actor, Amitabh Bachchan, for taking “more interest” in Uttar Pradesh than in Maharashtra.” What kind of a ridiculous piece of news item is this??? Baffled I watched on. “Though he has become a star in Mumbai, his interest is in Uttar Pradesh. That is why he was trying to be an ambassador of UP rather than Maharashtra,” Thackeray said, Disgusted at this illogical comment, I switched off my T.V. Several questions began to intrigue me. Such blatant cases of regional chauvinism! What is going to happen to this country? How better are these politicians than the British who divided our country to rule over it? Are we secular? Is this a democracy? Well, certainly not, if regional identities such as these continue to perpetuate an already divisive society.
India claims to be one of the largest democracies in the world. It boasts of being multireligious, multiethnic, and multicultural. It showed the world the power of unity in diversity. Yet, today it stands divided, with all possible kinds of linguistic and regional barriers deep seated in our ‘secular’ society. It is like claiming a state as your private property. Regionalism thrives because regional parties like the Shiv Sena, DMK, that use such tactics to mobilize support during elections, misuse sentiments to harbor hatred towards other communities, who, originally, do not belong to their state. They are notorious for their rigorous campaigns at ousting people who come from other parts of the country, seeking employment. Ironically, this happens in spite of the constitution clearly stating that every citizen has the right to settle anywhere inside the Indian Territory and practice any profession that he\she wants to. Hasn’t Mr. Bachchan done simply what he is guaranteed by the constitution? How can a mindless terminology like an ‘ambassador of UP’ be used in a society that is supposed to be egalitarian? Would it mean that Maharashtra would be any better if all those residents coming from the other states left it? Of course not, especially when the highest number of farmer suicide is in Maharashtra, and they are the ones who are in the real sense, the ‘sons of the soil’. How could people entertain such notions, I wonder. Differentiating people on the basis of language and region comes handy as a political weapon in an attempt to win votes. Unfortunately, the elections in our country are the zenith of politics and irresponsible politicians use such weapons to divert the attention from matters of grave economics, social problems confronting the nation, etc. Fooling poor, uneducated people for attaining a greater political mileage, they turn a blind eye towards the real troublemaker, that is the stark regional imbalance in this case. The very fact that some states are more developed than the others, gives rise to tendencies of migrating to developed areas. The severe rural – urban divide aggravates the problem further. If Raj Thackeray or the Shiv Sena is seriously troubled with this issue. I would advise them to solve the imbalanced economic development instead of being hostile towards someone from UP or Tamil Nadu. As a citizen of India, one owes their primary allegiance to the nation rather than identifying oneslef as someone from Maharashtra or UP. Let us strive to achieve what our freedom fighters always envisioned for a united India ,where harmony prevailed transcending several barriers and a spirit ran through the entire length and breadth of the country. The spirit of ’VASUDEV KUTUMBAKAM’ Rohini Ram Mohan [Image courtesy: http://im.rediff.com/movies/2008/feb/04amit.jpg ]