When law-makers turn law-breakers

When law-makers turn law-breakers

Elected MLAs objected to one taking oath in Hindi recognised as the National Language. They beat up the MLA discharging his duty. Four of the offenders have been suspended. Another nine who share the same parochial linguistic mentality have been allowed to continue as long as they do not misbehave. I don’t think this is good enough and stronger methods of dealing with linguistic fanatics must be evolved to keep the country together. What they should be, I am not sure but hope others who have the future of the motherland at heart will soon come out with the solution.

Bombay was my home for nine years. It was a cosmopolitan city with many races, religions, languages and lifestyles. Most people spoke their mother tongues and a dialect of Bombay Hindustani with ayenga, jayenga, kya mangta, khallas etc. There were no language problems. Things began to go wrong when the city changed its name from Bombay to Mumbai. It saw the emergence of Shiv Sena under the leadership of Bal Thackeray as a formidable political force. It was and is essentially anti-Muslim.

The hallowed name of Shivaji was misused to gain public sympathy. It was enlarged in the sphere of hate to all non-Mumbaikars. It believed in the use of force to achieve its ends. Its first victims were Tamilians whose humble eateries were ruthlessly destroyed. Its members were lumpen elements of Bombay’s slums who had nothing to lose and much to gain by goondagardi. Now that Bal Thackeray has become a toothless old tiger and his son a mewling nonentity, the role of the hate-monger has been taken over by his nephew Raj Thackeray. He further enlarged the circle of hate to all non-Marathi-speaking people, notably Biharis and Uttar Pradeshis. It paid him handsome dividends as his party was able to win 13 Assembly seats. He is a major headache for all right-thinking Indians.

Hate campaign
I think Raj Thackeray should have been put behind bars when he first landed his hate campaign. But we did not have leaders who had the guts to do so. I can think of a gentlier method of dealing with him, is to make him stay as a guest of Lalu Prasad Yadav in Patna or Mulayam Singh in Lucknow. He will be taught how to behave himself and he will realise that there are many Indians who do not answer to his description of Marathi manoos but are better citizens of India than he.

Great writing
It was not so very long ago that the literary world realised that simple, unvanished prose makes as memorable writing as good poetry. Poetry takes liberty with grammer and sequence of words to make lines rhyme; good prose sticks rigidly to rules of grammer and yet achieves the same result. To the best of my knowledge the first publication of good prose writing was Granta, published from London. It was an instant success. Some Indians felt that many of their countrymen wrote English as well as the best writers in England. So the idea germinated. The pioneer was the economist, the late Dharma Kumar who was a great raconteur with a malicious sense of humour. She had no difficulty in persuading Ravi Dayal to launch a publication, an Indian version of Grants. They struck on the name Civil Lines, a ramnant of British Raj which is not found in England. Both Ravi Dayal and Dharma Kumar are gone. Now Rukun Advani was selected the best from five editions of Civil Lines to compile Written For Ever: The Best of Civil Lines (Ravi Dayal & Penguin-Viking). It has articles by some of the most famous Indian writers of yesterday and today. Some names like Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie and Dom Moraes are missing - I know not why. But what it has, more than compensates for what it does. I went over the articles most of which I had read earlier and thoroughly enjoyed reading them again. I strongly recommend this collection for aspiring writers looking for inspiration and samples of good writing as well as others who relish reading polished prose.

Thackeray’s lament
Balasaheb has every reason to complain
That Marathi menoos is an ungrateful lot
How much violence he has for their sake, wrought
And the north, south and east Indians, for their benefit fought
The man is genuinely hurt
Because, for their sake, he has acted filth and dirt
Bashing up every north Indian cab man
Bashing up every south Indian store
Oh, for their sake, he has acted anti-national to the core
He sowed hatred, created chaos
Led the hoodlums, for he was their boss
All his noble deeds have, alas, gone down the drain
Because by defeating him, Marathi manoos has hurt his brain.
(Contributed by Kuldip Salil, Delhi)

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