Thursday, January 21, 2010

The side effects of globalization!

Just a few weeks before I came back to Australia this year, an Indian was stabbed to death in Melbourne. Since then, at every dinner party, I had to explain the "real situation" to everyone. Indian television media is extremely hyperactive. I have said this before and I would say it again. The government had to issue an order of restraint to the media following similar reports of Indians being attacked after the unfortunate incident. Although this causes a lot of anxiety to people who have sent their kids to Australia and also others who have family members living here, one good thing about the whole media coverage is that both Australian police and the Australian government have been put in the spotlight. We cannot deny that it has not helped in a certain way. In today's times, any country would be reluctant to admit that racism is even a small element of their culture. Moreover, labeling Australia as a racist country is unfair. Some Australians could be racist but that certainly does not imply that the whole country is racist.
Amidst this frenzy we had statements from various Australian authorities. The Victorian Police Chief admitted that Indians were being overrepresented in the robbery statistics. Here's a quote from his statement:
"I have said from day one undoubtedly some of these attacks have a racist motive or there is racist elements to these attacks. Regardless of who they are, what they are, what colour they are, what occupation they are, my job is to make the state as safe as I can for everyone."

Now, lets go back to Mumbai. In the good old days of Mahatma Gandhi, Indians learned to boycott. We still do that in our own fancy ways by boycotting something as peripheral and frivolous as a game of cricket. So Mr.Bal Thakrey promptly roared in his own secure forest- Samna that he would stop the Aussie cricket team from playing in Maharashtra. The direct Gandhian line has taken to "relay fastings" where one member of the group sits on the podium on a "hunger strike" to wait for someone who takes his place later. :)
The radical groups have taken to violent boycotting of everything that comes in the way of what they want. In fact, these days it is hard to tell if they really want the end that they are striving for. These kind of statements can be compared to a Rakhi Sawant arranging her own Swayamwar on "reality" television. The whole saga is not really to get a husband, it is for getting everything that she would on the way to her alleged destination. Do we ever have a Mumbai chief admitting that he is responsible for every person's safety? When a Sachin Tendulkar says, "I am an Indian first and then a Maharashtrain", all the hyenas in Mumbai start tearing him apart. When the statement he made is so relevant because he represents India, not Maharashtra everywhere he goes!
Around the same time as the Aussie attacks came to light two years ago, Mumbai witnessed a similar style of attacks. The Marathi-Bihari debate that is still giving votes to the Thakrey family. Mumbai is the most sought after city in India. Everyone wants to be in Mumbai. Naturally people who speak the same language as the rest of Maharashtra would want to assert their importance. The latest official reaction to this issue is seen in the headlines today. To be a cabbie in Mumbai now, you have to know Marathi well and you should present a proof of over fifteen years of residence in Mumbai!
The day I returned, I got into a cab driven by an Aussie gentleman. He shed some light on the "other side" of the whole racist debate. Indian cabbies are attacked in Australia mostly because
1. They do not know the streets at all. They jump into a cab the moment they land in Australia and sometimes even do not know how to use the GPS.
2. They misuse the meter by hitting buttons when the passenger is not looking. Unless you ask for your printed receipt, you will never know you were duped.
3. They play Punjabi (Indian Bollywood) songs in the taxi when they have passengers.
4. Some or all of this is done on Friday and Saturday nights when most cabs are used by Australians who go clubbing and can't drive because they are absolutely sloshed.
Imagine if this happens in Pune. If you get into a rickshaw and the driver has no clue where you want to go and you have no clue either! If he plays loud Ganesh festival music while you are trying to have a conversation with your friend sitting next to you. Worst still, if they charge you Rs.1oo for a journey you know for sure should not cost more than Rs.25! Even if you are absolutely sober, you would pick up a fight with him.
I accept that not all "Indian cabbies" have these ways just the way I say that all of Australia is not racist. But the ones who get attacked and the ones who attack them both fall into the same minority!

Whether in Mumbai, or in Brisbane, the problem should be "unprofessional taxi drivers" instead of "Bihari (non-marathi)" or "Indian taxi drivers".

We should all condemn the attacks, in India as well as Australia. But we should not close our eyes to the reasons that cause them.
All of us know that it is unfair to attack people just because they come from a different country or claim our jobs but hey! this is globalization for you. This has been happening and will happen until the world becomes one color from mixing. Until the time when every person in the world cannot correctly trace their origins to a single ethnicity. Just the way Indian media and politicians make a big hype about "Indians" in Australia, with all sincerity and gratefulness, I would request them to do something about the intra-country racism that exists blatantly within India itself. This is an underlying reality about every nation. Whether it is visa procedures made more "stringent" for only certain passports or cabbies being abused openly and attacked in a faraway land. Just like the fear of unpredictable terrorism, everyone who is not white lives under a subconscious fear of being pointed out at! It is a choice that people living outside their country make very consciously. The only precaution you can take is to abide by the laws of the land and make sure you are not found helpless at wrong times.
Above this murky, angry and sensational reality lies another one too! Where Australia, India, China, UK, Poland, Jamaica and Fiji meet for beer in a pub after work on a Friday night. :)


Jack the Ripper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack the Ripper said...

This is precisely what happens when one makes a “koshimbir” of many issues. A stark self contradiction.

Heres your say on Aussie attacks “We should all condemn these attacks but we should not close our eyes to the reasons that cause them.”

But when it comes attacks on Biharis you emphasize only on condemning the attacks with a naked denial of endangering of local culture.

Heres some evidence for you. And not from a common person like me but a talented musician who comes in contact with the cultural aspects of marathi day in and day out.

Saee said...

My point was to bring out the double standards. Attacks anywhere should be condemned. But at least the governments should not openly justify and cause them. It just ends up alienating cultures and making generalizations.
It would be more respectful for Balasaheb Thakray to say, "See! This is what we are trying to say in Mumbai. This exact behaviour is causing them problems even in Australia!"
Of course that would be a HUGE generalization and completely wrong.
Just the way it is splashed all over the news how Australia "depends" on the funds brought in by Indians, is it not true that the if the Gujrathi, Bihari community in Mumbai stops working even for a day, Mumbai would stop working too!
And drunk angry Aussies attacking taxi drivers is one thing, and a full fledged movement to beat up "foreigners" in Maharashtra launched by an elected representative is another. Both are equally disgraceful, but the latter is even ironical.
At least the government in Australia has taken responsibility and is working towards the safety of minorities. I can see police officers on every train station on weekends and security in every train after 6 pm.

शिरीष said...

Saee! I fully subscribe to your view point.The Media always hypes the issues and generally present "their view point".

The news in media is so concentrated that we at once start beliving in the news. The point you raised about MNS campain in Maharashtra aginst Biharie can be applauded by Marathi people then the same principal should be applied to the Australians. If we condem these attacks ignoring what happens in our own land then it is absolutely playing double standards.

I remember when I went to Punjab in 1984 amidist the Khalistan movement, the press in Maharashtra had presented a picture that Punjab was totally unsafe.But I travelled even to Golden Temple in Amritsar I felt safe. I found that generally the Sikh community had hospitability and cared for us unlike they were painted as terrorists by Media.Every community has bad people but good people are more.

What every one needs is introspection!

Jack the Ripper said...

Attacks whether in mumbai or australia or on Mars are disgraceful,period. No doubts about it.
My concern was you have deeply thought about the causes behind Aussie attacks. And you have said not only should we condemn the attacks but also think about things that are root cause of it.V.Good!
But in case of mumbai(and this includes ur previous post as well) you openly condemned the attacks but you have denied the causes(any endangering of marathi lang/ culture).
U are painting a picture that Aussie attacks although wrong, are a result of a valid cause behind it, where as there is no cause whatsoever behind mumbai attacks.
That was why I had sent you kaushal inamdar's interview in that link. Hope you read it and agree that 'marathi' is in danger, causing suffering to millions of local maharashtrians.

Saee said...

@ JAck.
I changed my post to read what I meant. And when I mean we should analyze is in both cases. But we cannot deny people the right to work in their own country for the sake of endangering the culture!
Every person works hard to get where he is.
So many Marathi people go to the US every year! If people in the US make laws against them, or start attacking them, would you call that fair?
And at least it is a new country. So there is still room to accept that they might not want to employ us. But accepting this in your own country could cause a lot of trauma!
Just the way you say that Marathi is dying, there are also many instances where non-Marathi people have started speaking it.
This year in a TV show called Sa.Re.Ga.Ma.Pa, the top three have two non-marathi people. Rahul Saxena and Abhilasha Chellam. Both of them sing songs that even a well-educated Marathi boy/girl would not know.
We have film directors like Jabbar Patel who are not Marathi but have made the most beautiful Marathi films.
This marathi/non marathi issue is being sold to people of Maharashtra only to get votes. Once in power, no one would be able to do what they promise. Only because eradicating non-maharashtrians from Mumbai is impossible, unconstitutional and dictatorial.

Swayambhu said...

thougtful observations...also kaushal inamdarancha lekh suddha spruhaniya aahe!

Jack the Ripper said...

1.Thanks for showing at least an inclination to agree about the plight of marathi. Feels nice and I appreciate the fact of non-marathi people taking up marathi. But, I can also use ur same example to point out how many times Pallavi Joshi uses english words when prefectly legitimate marathi words are available eg. "points" vs. "gooN" etc. Why to go for some abstract statistics, just see how many of ur young relatives/friends who've become parents newly are willing to put their child in marathi medium school. Go to any housing society in outskirts of puNe and see if the names on letterboxes are in marathi. Look at any marathi news channel(private) and see how many english words are being used. I think if I go like this I wud end up writing "marathi chyaa apamaanaache 501 prakaar". So the evidence is overwhelming.
2.I know words keep on getting imported and exported from&to languages. But that happens when there isn't an appropriate word in the original language. like 'navigation' which came in english from sanskrit or 'pharlaang' came in marathi from 'furlong'. But incase of point#1 the reason is different hence the pace of change and so the lost social-self-esteem.
3.Now about mumbai-bihari issue. If you look at the big picture Raj Thackery is just a prominently visible episode of the phenomenon of what has been happening through past 60+ yrs. We have been neglecting some states and regions and giving unequal importance to others. This discrimination caused the potential gap, forcing unmanageable migrations from poorer regions to where jobs are available and in turn putting a massive overload on those region's infrastructure as well. Condemning Raj Thackery's violence without quoting above causes is equally misguiding as much as Raj's violence itself.
4.Just an example: Since 2003 any car registered outside London and coming into London has to pay a "congestion tax" of 8pounds/day because he is causing a congestion by coming into London even though he is a UK citizen and free to go anywhere in the country. They didn't use excuse of this freedom against this tax. The decision was accepted in proper context. We need to understand the migration problem of mumbai in a similar context.

Saee said...

@ Jack
There IS no plight of Marathi. Marathi can sustain itself without the Pallavi Joshis and the news channels.
There is enough literature and movies being produced. There are enough students in Marathi schools and even the English schools teach Marathi. I don't think this "Marathi is dying" is a valid argument at all.
It must be "dying" in certain people's heads. It is very well surviving and progressing all over Maharashtra.
Look at how many people blog in Marathi. It is not just active amongst people in India but also people living abroad.
These are not signs of a dying language.
If you are concerned about the "fate of Marathi" you do not need to worry about it. But if you want to use it to blame someone else, there is nothing anything can do about it too!
What you say about words being used from English is true for all languages in India. If radio Mirchi starts broadcasting in "vishuddha Hindi" it would end up as a joke.

Jack the Ripper said...

1.well if you've decided to close your eyes completely one cant help. "One can only bring water to horse, its upto the horse to drink it or not".
I think you have closed your mind to such an extent that even opinions of people like Kaushal inamdar or couldnt affect you.
2.I mean if a bank official denies to speak in marathi inside maharashtra to a marathi customer and still his business is booming, I dont understand how is the phenomenon in my head? If a company like telecom company denies to speak marathi inside maharashtra to a marathi celebrity then how is this only in my head? These are not my dreams these are real instances.:(
3.Either that or you are not at all aware of ground realities in Maharastra and India and are happy generalizing from superficial sources as per your convenience.
4.I think u've been a victim of extreme colonial mentality otherwise you wud'nt have called "vishuddha hindi" a joke. I only wish that I was wrong in this debate of Marathi dying.

Jack the Ripper said...

And along with Marathi dying I also stated the reason for RT violence to be massive overload on mumbai's infrastructure. It would be ludicrous if you deny that as well.

Saee said...

I am tired of arguments over this issue.
Sanskrit is considered a dead language..and even then in olden times not all people spoke Sanskrit.
You should know the difference between a "dying language" and a language that is being disrespected by a small class of people.
Someone NOT SPEAKING Marathi at a bank counter is NOT a sign of a dying language.
We have close to 30 daily newspapers being published in Marathi every day in Maharashtra.
We have contemparory writers like Shyam Manohar, Asha Bage, Sadanand Deshmukh.
Not just this, we have poets like Kavi Grace or even the very popular Ayushyawar bolu kahi doing 500 shows.
There is enough children's literature being written. There enough news and entertainment channels in Marathi.
These are definitely signs of a dying language.
If you want to focus on Marathi being used in Mumbai there could be truth in your argument but that should not mean that the language is "dying". I come from Pune and Marathi is very well alive in my city. So much so that all the radio channels have more than an hour of Marathi songs everyday.
And except big cities like Pune and Mumbai, Marathi is the schooling language of majority of Maharashtra.
I think you are upset about Marathi not being used in Mumbai but since Mumbai is more diverse than rest of Maharashtra,it would be difficult to make everyone in Mumbai speak Marathi.
And the whole of India comes under "strain on infrastructure".That does not mean governments can drive people out of India.
Instead of working on beating up people and sending them out of Mumbai, issues like rural employment, electricity for small scale industry in rural India, encouraging enterpreneurship should be the goals of people elected to the office.
As long as you hold an Indian passport, you are free to work anywhere in India. So if more and more people choose Mumbai, it is hard to stop them.
I don't want to continue talking on this issue anymore as I think I am repeating myself and digressing from the main topic. If you do not agree with me, let us agree that we disagree.