Will they throw us out?
While we are talking about all the things that are wonderful about this absolutely mindblowing city, I think it is time to take a pause and look at one of the headlines last week that managed to shake me of my comfort zone.
Sometimes, I wonder why this phrase, the politics of hate, even exists, because most of world polity thrives on hate. Jews Vs Moslems, Christians Vs rest of the world, Hindus Vs Moslems, North Indians Vs South Indians, Hindi speaking Vs Non Hindi speaking, Marathi Vs Other Indians….the menu for the politician of today to choose from is just endless. No politician wants to speak up and be answerable for the lack of development in their constituencies. Point fingers at the immigrants, and tell your people that they are the cause of all evil, and lo! their work is done. A spark is lit and the fire becomes all consuming, sparing none but the person who started it. Maybe a lot of Indians should just go and read the tale of the two cities, just to see how dangerous such things can be. The people of France shouting ‘Emigre’ and watching merrily the person being put to stake still sends shivers down my spine.
People in Mumbai who point fingers at emigrants from other states would do well to realize that most of their local heroes are not well, really all that local. Mumbai owes a lot to Parsis for making it the financial capital of this country, and hell, Parsis are not even of Indian origins. The entertainment industry in Mumbai, that holds in its realms the dreams and aspirations of a billion people is as cosmopolitan as any industry can get. People from Karnataka contribute in no small measure to the thriving south-Indian food industry. The dabbawalas are from all over-Bihar, UP, Tamil Nadu, Bengal…I could go on and on. For more, read the Mumbai metblogs.
I know that this blog is not about Mumbai, it is about namma Bengaluru, the second biggest cosmpolitan city in India. However, we do have our own versions of the Shiv Sena but they have been dormant for some time now.The latest in the politics of hate from Maharashtra will definitely set a lot of grey, or must it be black, cells ticking across the border. While it is perfectly OK to protect the interests of people of one’s state, it is also worthwhile to remember that we are Indians first and foremost. The people guarding our borders show no such regionalism. The people who entertain us, the people who keep our economy ticking, and hell, even the people who govern us are as diverse as India gets.
Diversity breeds progress. Bangalore a few years ago was a peaceful city, but it would do well to remember that it was also an extremely lazy and incompetent city. There was scarcity and when you went to a hotel in a group, you were scared to pick up the bill. Now, people are on the move, competing with the rest of India, talking to people from across the country, and yes not scared at picking up the tab for a friend. While most of the south-Indian hotel chains are operated and staffed by local people, the pubs are predominantly Sindhi-owned, the Gujrat’s and marwaris still prevail over the wholesale business, the Punjus make their presence in the Punju food outlets, and almost any kind of business, and the IT sector has people from everywhere. That is what makes Bangalore throb now, and although it is still not there in terms of its nearest competitor Mumbai, it is soon becoming the place to be. From rock bands to Jagjit Singh to Balmurali Krishna, every artiste gets an appreciative audience.
Why am I so concerned? My surname speaks of a city from Andhra Pradesh, so I must be Telugu, and a definite immigrant. Well, it is not really all that simple. I was raised and schooled in Karnataka, my maternal grandfather was raised in Andhra Pradesh, my maternal grandmother in Mysore, we belong to a caste called deshastha smarthas who migrated from Maharashtra, and I have cousins who are married to people from across India. And that is such a great thing because we know a lot many languages, cook a variety of foods at our homes, and our next generations will find it difficult to explain which state they exactly belong to. Where does this leave us in the politics of hate? We don’t belong to any state but to every one. Which state will accept us then?
My first love was a Kannadiga, my second a Sindhi, and my best friend who is closer to me than any blood relation is a Garhwali. Going by the second names of people in Bangalore metblogs, I know that the perspective here comes from a variety of people, much like the Mumbai metblogs, and very unlike another metblog from across the border.
Bangalore is destined for much bigger things, and there will be efforts to thwart it from such vested interests. We can only confront this by standing up for our friends and fellowmen of our city. The next time your friends talk something regional, please don’t hesitate to ask them to take a long, long walk.