Tuesday, 9 September, 2008

Peculiar dignity

In a recent function, MP and actress Jaya Bachchan said, “Hum toh Hindi mein bolna pasand karenge. Hum toh UPwalle hain. Maharashtrawalle humein maaf karenge.” When translated it means, “I would like to speak in Hindi since I am an UPite. Maharashtrains will forgive me.”

This was taken as slight to Maharashtra and Marathi. Raj Thackeray gave a call to boycott not only all films starring the Bachchans, but also all products endorsed by the family. But he didn't stop there. He 'ordered' his partymen, indeed all Marathis to destroy all hoardings and posters featuring the family. The latter threat was promptly implemented.

Mrs Bachchan has since apologised for the remark, saying she said it in jest, and meant no harm.

But I hope the story doesn't end here. Let's say she didn't say it in jest alone, and it was pregnant with political meaning. So what? It was a civilised joke. And deserves, at worst, a civilised rebuttal.

Notice her words: “Maharashtrawalle humein maaf karenge.” Maharashtrains will forgive me. She demands forgiveness, doesn't beg for it. It can only mean that she expects, if not fairness, at least civilisation from her adversaries. She expects them to be agreeable when they disagree. This is a necessary condition for democracy, isn't it? What sort of dignity do we want that excludes basic democratic rights?

By deniying non-Marathi politicians the right to free speech and gentle dissent here, Thackrey and his goons is forfeiting all Marathi speakers' rights to these fundamentals elsewhere. He forgets that effectively Marathi is the second language in Goa and Karnataka. And there are large numbers of Marathis in MP.

Also, the Bachchan's don't own any of the ads the goons damaged. Companies do. Why punish companies for their ambassadors' politics?

And even if Mrs Bachchan owned those hoardings, how can you damage her property because you disagree with her politics? Even if what she did was wrong, who is Thackrey to decide (a) the occurrence of crime and (b) the amount and nature of punishment. What sort of dignity excludes the rule and protection of law? Is that the dignity that Thackrey will give this state if elected to office?

Thackrey's justification is that Marathi-speakers' feelings have been hurt! I respect feelings. I believe that those outside a problem undervalue feelings and face of the people involved, and over-value logic. Yet, I think this is way over the top.

Finally, we heard another politician saying that it was a political incident which must be resolved politically. Is it? Isn't it plainly a law & order violation involving politicians that must be tackled by the police and decided by the courts?

Why do Thackry's supporters believe that the hand the thrashes others will pet them? Or does he have no supporters at all, only goons?


Anonymous said...

The function was in Mumbai. It was the music release for Drona - starring Abhishek Bachchan. Goldie Behl (I think he is the director) and Abhishek made teir speeches in English. Jaya commented that they should speak in Hindi. When Priyanka Chopra took the mike, she said she would speak in Hindi in deference to Jaya's wish. Jaya then commented that "We are UPwallas and should shpeak in Hindi." No reference was made about Marathi or Maharashtrians as far as I know.

Raj T. went totally overboard...
For one, Hindi is the National Language... he shouldn't object even if Maharashtrians speak Hindi.

Just a couple of weeks before this incident, Mumbai Mirror ran an article on how Rajs son has opted for German in college - not Marathi. His wife commented that German was more scoring! Why the double standard?
If Marathi is so important to you - ensure that your kids study in a Marathi medium school not fancy English medium ones. And if Marathi is an optional language, make sure they take it... Raj should lead by example!

He is a worthless goonda who should be made to pay for all the damage his MNS workers have inflicted. He should be reined in before he becomes another Balasaheb!

N&P said...

Good to know that there are people who have the guts to call a spade a spade. I don't.