Monday, February 01, 2010

Indian cities under threat from surrounding states

Today I was appalled to read the statement from a former Lok Sabha speaker (head of Indian legislature)  Murali Manohar  Joshi that “Mumbai is for only for the people from the state of Maharashtra”. Mumbai is the economic & entertainment capital of India and how can it be closed only to the people from its surrounding state? Mr. Joshi does not limit to just words but through his party has contributed to enough violence against “outsiders” – Indians from other states. Think of what would happen if NYC declares it is only for ethnic Newyorkers and start burning those coming from Pennsylvania or Maryland ?

The problem is limited not only to Mumbai but in other cities too. India’s tech capital of Bangalore experienced riots and violence against Tamils and other “outsiders” in 1990s, and some of its leaders blocked developments to the city like a monorail plan arguing that the Kannadigas (natives of the surrounding state of Karnatka) outside the city are being left out. The other tech city of Hyderabad is caught in a tussle between regions of the state of Andhra Pradesh. It is a shame that 3 of the major tech centers of India are now a victim of such chauvinism and sub-nationalism that both threatens India’s unity and economy.

It is time for Indian government to put its foot down and reinforce the idea - “India is for all Indians” and there cannot be any linguistic/regional/casteist group that can threaten this idea of India. Any Indian is free to move/settle in any part of India and state/local government that thinks otherwise must be threatened with dismissal. Any leader who incites violence in the name of subnationalism should better spend time behind bars.

But, more importantly Indian government should consider separating the major metropolis from their surrounding states and give them politcal autonomy – under Union Territories classification. China has this way and cities like Beijing, Tianjin, Chongqing, Hong Kong and Shanghai are autonomous & don’t belong to other provinces. This allows the cities to pursue their development and handle their problems independent of their adjoining states.

Just like how national capital of Delhi was carved out of the state of Haryana, metropolitan cities including Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata have to be carved out of their parent states and be given autonomy as Union Territories. This will prevent different communities fighting to attach the metropolis to their own region similar to what is happening in the state of Andhra Pradesh, and will allow the city to devise its own transportation and urban development infrastructure.

Chandigarh, Pondicherry and New Delhi have had no problems by not being a part of a major province and I would like to see other metros too in this. There could be a unified city development council at the center that can manage and guide these autonomous cities.

And coming to Indian politics, if the national party of BJP doesn’t rein its ally Shiv Sena and get out of such narrow minded interests it will permanently damage its electorate in the rest of India.

14 comments:

Ram said...

Balaji,
There was an attempt to declare Mumbai as UT during the 50's. It was dropped because of the mass(and violent) movement against it. Then came Shiv Sena.. now MNS...

As a resident of Mumbai, what shocks me is the tacit approval of some of the well educated people here. If this is the case, I do not expect any kind of great reasoning from the illiterate people. Since a sizable majority continues to support this stand, these parties continue to thrive. If a democracy things are bottom up.. If the parties are like this- it is only because of the people who support them.

maumad said...

^^ Just because you do not approve the things, does not mean well educated people are stupid to support. I call myself pretty well educated [MS in Engg] and proud to support the cause for which MNS is fighting. Given the way Mumbai evolved, I support the cause [not the violence] raised by MNS. Where was the same threat when Tamils banning Hindi from TN?

maumad said...

Sorry, never got to comment on actual post though. Carving out a city and making it UT is unrealistic and stupid idea. How many cities are you going to carve out? Does it even scale?

What about this solution: Help each state prosper at the same rate. Let there be not too much wide between rich and poor states. Help locals get the jobs so that they do not have to migrate.

Comparing Indian states and US states again sounds very stupid to me. Indian states are drawn on linguistic basis. Is there any state in India which is drawn by latitudes and longitudes like many states in US are? All US states, pretty much fall at acceptably equal economic development. The idea of having linguistic based state was to let people help prosper their state. If you can not help your state like UP, Bihar grow rich, at least do not come to Mumbai and make it dirty.

Balaji said...

@Ram,
In 1950s the UT movement was due to the split of Bombay state into Gujarat and Maharashtra with both wanting Bombay. Today the problem is a little more as the issue is not restricted to Bombay alone and the reason is not just due to chauvinism by also for economic development. We cannot let India's growth story getting derailed due to the narrow minded interests.

@Maumad,
It is your personal choice to be in MNS or not. Regarding fighting against Hindi imposition - How is fighting against Hindi the language be the same as beating up Hindi - the people? Maharashtra is within its rights to retain Marati as their language Indian federal government cannot force all Maratis to learn Hindi, and that was the issue then . And anyway how come a mistake done 50 years ago be a justification for mistakes done now?

Mumbai owes its riches today due to wide variety of Indians. It includes UP guys like Amithabh, Delhi guys like Shah Rukh, Parsi folks like Tata family, Gujjus like Dhirubhai... in short Indians - both Marathis and non-Marathis. Without all the "outsiders" Mumbai would have been just another Indian city like say Sholapur or Tiruchirappalli.

Ask yourself the question - are you a first an Indian or you member of your linguistic state? I love my state and language as much as anybody, but that cannot be at the cost of India.

Ram said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ram said...

There were some typos in the previous comment.

Well- there were anti hindi ryots in TN and I accept the fact that Hindi is not mandatory in our schools. Just because, someone else does a similar mistake, your mistake is not justified. That needs to change..It is changing..

As they say, history repeats itself, you can draw parallels to what happened in Detroit. What was touted as the "largest city of opportunity in the world" is now one of the poorest cities of America because of its attitude towards migration. That is not the only reason, but it is a significant cause for Detroit's downfall. More info can be found here..

http://bentley.umich.edu/research
/publications/migration/ch1.php

Equitable growth has to happen. No second thoughts about it. But easier said than done. I remember reading somewhere that there are economic inequalities among the american states, though i don't have any supporting material for that.

Migration is inevitable. Migration of jobs, wealth, people keep happening in a flat world and fittest has to survive through ingenuity and not by force

maumad said...

Ah! There is always argument that Mumbai is Mumbai because of people from outside. Hell no! Mumbai is Mumbai because of its culture. Culture which most Maharashtrians cultivated, culture of tolerance. Do not tell me that Chennai, Kolkata or any other similar city, if comparable at all, is big because of local's money. Is Banglore the Banglore because Bangloreans poured in the money? No, it is Banglore because outsiders poured in money.

I think first your should educate people in your state to vote for the govt. which encourages development irrespective of cast and creed and without considering free televisions than advocating others.

I am definitely Indian first, but NOT at the expense of our own people. I had similar argument with my friend on the FB. Are you going to oppose Article 370C in J&K because it grants the state special status? Do you have guts to call Kashmiri Muslims a narrow minded community? If you had, you would have talked about article 370C already in your post. If you can not defend that, you can not defend why Marathis should get sub citizen treatment in their own state. If you fight strongly enough to get rid of article 370C then I give credit to your arguments otherwise let us decide which party dominates in Mumbai and surrounding region. And we habe proven it repeatedly that INC, NCP, SS, BJP suck!

maumad said...

BTW, if you do not know, there is discrimination against the locals because the standard of living in MH is higher than that of BH and UP. We are not responsible for conditions and standards of living in BH / UP. And just because that those states can not grow beyond the cast politics, it is our responbility to support these states.

If according to your sentence, if MH is within its right to retain Marathi as language, what is the problem for asking new taxiwallahs to know Marathi and have 15 yrs residence proof to get new permit? Why should INC or for that matter any other party oppose this decision? If they do, we are going to fight back.

Noorul Islam said...

Nice article!

Balaji said...

@Maumad,
I request you to reread the article. I didn't single out Mumbai alone. Just like Mumbai other metros are also the beneficiaries of multicultural habitat. Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad all have considerable non-locals who add significant value, and we cannot afford to have narrow minded interests favoring locals. That's why I said all the top cities have to be liberated by narrow interests. I'm not saying the problem is unique to Maratis, I'm just saying it is an all-india problem that requires an all-india solution.

Regarding Bihar and UP being underdeveloped, can the same logic be used by Americans and Europeans to block trade and visas? Just like how Bihar is underdeveloped in your eyes, India is underdeveloped in outsiders eyes. How do you plan to get work with your ME in computer Engg. if rest of the world blocks Indian labor and services citing underdevelopment?

How many Maharashtrians have trouble with communicating with their auto/taxi drivers because the drivers don't speak Marati? Show me proof that sizable number of Maharashtrians are finding trouble to reach their home because of the language issue and you will have the imposition justified.

Well, I do oppose Article 370 and want Kashmir to be integrated with India. But, the issue is a little complex practically. In the normal scenario that state might not have come into India in the first place (when we justified Hyderabad invasion citing the majority Hindu populace & disregarding the monarch's wish, Kashmir must have gone to Pakistan by reverse logic). But, anyway now that we have it, Article 370 must be taken out in a phased out manner.

maumad said...

When Indians start taking low skilled jobs in western countries, they do speak against it. If you watch carefully, the stand is against losing blue collar jobs. Which, unless you actually face yourself, will be issue anywhere, no matter city, country and state.

And it is not matter of communication. Even if you are mute, you can still communicate.
Giving 4500 taxi permits to outsiders, means letting 4500 families to come in and settle down. Why not take care of interests of local people first? I don't see what is wrong in this. You guys did that very well in TN.

BTW, though you did not single out Mumbai, I think your solution of crafting out piece of every metro is just not feasible. Or you still want to stick to it?

[Well, good discussion. Alas, this is going to be my last post. I will watch hateful messages people leave for me :)]

Balaji said...

TN has over 11% non-Tamils (70 lakh people) and there is not much of discrimination against non-Tamils. We celebrate Rajnikanth (Marati) and MG Ramachandran (Malayali) more than we celebrate their local competitors like Kamal hasan and Sivaji Ganesan. And there are a lot more migrant workers from other states. As long as they earn a decent & legal living, I don't see a problem with that.

India doesn't lack jobs, it just lakhs qualified people to do them. If the locals want to compete they just have to raise their quality and will qualify for jobs. Protectionism doesn't work among nations and is despicable among provinces of the same nation.

As i see it said...

@BV: Nice post da...

Two things

1) Only in African tribes and Indian cities is the inhuman act of literally beating up your opponents celebrated as a success of your cause. Ok fine.. there may be a couple of other tribes outside Africa that also do this.. but you now know the deep abyss you are heading into with this line of argument right..

2) Somewhere in the world's longest constitution is stated the fundamental right to travel anywhere (with the usual disclaimers on restricted areas) in the country for livelihood. So keeping non-marathi junta outside Mumbai is constitutionally unacceptable to start with.

This whole mumbai for marathi slogan sounds too childish. When a city grows, it does exactly that.. grows. And growth attracts people who further contribute to the process. Now what I dont get at all is under what moral authority is this slogan even being championed around. I mean.. if chance happened that by some hard digging of historical facts, it is revealed that bombay was built by the "immigrants" rather than the local junta, not that i am even slightly implying that, would the MNS and like-minded junta be right in staking their claim to the developed mumbai as we know of it today, at the cost of pushing the original architects out of the city. Rather, would they settle for an equal sized tract of land outside the city that would be reserved only for marathi jan? I dont think so..

To me, this whole hungama looks like a set of lazy people trying to stake their claim to mumbai's wealth without really working hard for it. Getting a decent paying job in India is tough for all.. marathi or non marathi. While I definitely sympathise with the marathis that can't get jobs in mumbai, I dont see why being born in maharashtra should be considered a divine right to have your life easier compared to somenone born in UP/Bihar. Only competition brings the best out of us and the only way to get that job is to work harder.

About making mumbai into a UT..., i dont think that even comes close to solving the fundamental problem.. The issue is people need to realise that no city in India can be "reserved" for people of a certain state. Period.

About UP/Bihar junta making mumbai dirty.. well I would have agreed to this had bombay been the worlds cleanest city and denigraded into its current situation only in the last 30 or so years coinciding with the large influx of migrants. Anybody ever heard of bombay being the cleanest city in the world.. or atleast in india?? I rest my case.

Balaji said...

If somebody is an Indian enemy like say LeT what would he dream to do?

Assault/kill Indians, cause fear among Indians, debliate Indian economy, polarise Indian public & stroke public disharmony, cause enemity with other nations...

A million Kasabs cannot achieve this and when they attacked Mumbai we all stood together, we stood as Indians and instead of fear we were beaming with courage and pride. And India and its friends abroad stayed together.

But, now Uddav & Sena could achieve what Kasab and other terrorists could hardly do. We are a divided lot and there is disharmony now.