Saturday, May 01, 2010

Pannas Varsha of Mazha Maharashtra (50 years of my Maharashtra)

There is a huge hullabaloo outside, that Maharashtra, my state is all of 50 years old. Today is May Day, Labor Day, Maharashtra Day. A day that marks the event where Maharashtra was given the status of being an independent state, disjoint from Gujarat. It was given a special place, as being for the Marathi speaking Indian. Ok. The papers have screamed their heads out about the struggle, especially around the mill areas of Lalbaug and Parel in Mumbai, where in total 105 lives were laid down in the demand for a separate state.

Sitting in Mumbai today, I really wonder what the deal is all about. Through the past one year, I had a ringside seat in the middle of a similar struggle for Telengana, where people were fighting to have the state split into 3 -AP, Rayalseema and Telengana. What the issues were, that pushed the people into demanding the trifurcation of AP, I perhaps won't really understand, since I moved out of the city within a year. People who have lived in AP told me then, that the whole movement was political and somewhere some of the common men didn't even want it!

MP broke into Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh. Bihar broke into Bihar and Jharkhand. Maoism is on the rise in Jharkhand. What is the whole funda behind wanting a separate state? Yes, May 1st was a well looked forward to holiday at work, but what has changed? Gujarat is steamrolling towards progress with several huge companies setting up shop there. Maharashtra continues to be one of the most prosperous states, thanks to Mumbai. I love my city and my state, and the cardinal love of unconditional love is to be able to see the faults too.

So Mumbai is growing. We have a Mumbai-Pune expressway, a Bandra-Worli sea link, a bunch of metros blooming, the best rail network in India, the best public road transport infrastructure in India. But that is Mumbai's story. We also have the notoriety of still having farmer suicides in Vidarbha and interior Maharashtra. Somewhere in between, there had been a demand for a separate state of interior Maharashtra as well. Will that solve the problem of drought, poverty and a crumbling infrastructure? Maoism and dacoity also show up in Gadchiroli in Maharashtra. Growth, clearly has not been inclusive. Movements against north Indians, non-Maharashtrians keep cropping up every now and then. But again, mainly concentrated around the political hub of Mumbai.

Yes, my state is all of 50 years old. A lot has been achieved. I couldn't be prouder of being a Mumbaikar. But somewhere in between, maybe the winners have been chosen over the laggards and the support has pulled the winners all along, leaving the laggards to languish somewhere at the bottom. We do have a lot to be proud of as a state. But we also have a lot to achieve as a united state.

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