This is my 100th post but I am in no mood to celebrate. Yesterday I saw Praful Patel (Civil Aviation Minister) defending Raj Thakre in Devil's Advocate (CNN IBN), even Karan Thapar, who had beautifully shamed Modi about never expressing any regret over the killing of thousands of Muslim citizens, did not ask him the right questions, he seemed unsure himself. The message a viewer got was Raj Thakre is right, his means are err... not completely right but... And that Congress supports RT. And one must respect Marathi culture.
Here are some questions Karan Thapar did not ask.
1. What about mutual respect and intermingling of cultures in every part of the country?
2. If Bihar belongs to Biharis, Maharashtra belongs to Marathi speaking Marathi Manoos, if Punjab belongs to Punjabis, where do Christians and Muslims go? Since we are dividing states, shouldn't they also have a state of their own, where no one can throw them out from? And what about those anti nationals who have committed the sin of marrying outside their region or religion? And their tainted children and grand children?
3. Praful Patel admires the way Bengali and Tamil thrive in Kolkatta and Chennai, he also cites Mamata Banerjee's good, people friendly example when defending Raj Thakre.
So do we want Mumbai to become like Chennai or Kolkatta or Auragabad, Jalgaon or Nagpur? No offense to these cities, just that they are not as COSMOPOLITAN as Mumbai & Delhi). Mumbai and Delhi (and soon Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Noida) have long been considered the most Cosmopolitan cities in India. We love to rant about 'not knowing our neighbors' in Cosmopolitan cities, but it is this culture which also gives us the space to belong to any religion, region, caste and even gender. The two cities (despite Delhi's crime rate) have thrived, grown and evolved because of their Cosmopolitan culture. A single mom, a gay couple, live in relationships and unmarried daughters are not judged in a Cosmopolitan environment. We live and let live. It is not correct to say that people do not help you in these cities, the way they do in smaller towns and villages in India. Cosmopolitan cities give you the choice of mingling or not mingling with your neighbours. That's perfectly fine. Yes Bombay and Delhi do not give us the freedom to keep an eye on the boy who drops our neighbour's young daughter home. Yes the neighbours are not interested in our Investment Banker son's job in America, nobody cares how much we spent on our child's Birthday Party or why our married daughter lives with us. It's Cosmopolitan cities, and not local cultures that show us the way to create an open minded (and open -hearted) civilization. If we are to grow, evolve (which every living community must), we need to change with times. Culture is fine. Language is fine. Use them for harmony and communication, do not get too emotional about either. Get emotional about human values. Humanity is above all cultures and languages.
We should learn from the British, their language thrives in many accents, versions and grows with use -not regulations and force. In India it is common to complain that our languages are dying, every language (including North Indians' Hindi) has it's ardent defenders. And yet, English, without anyone ready to die for it, is the language that is loved by all Indians, and gets us the best jobs.
And culture must change with time too. In a Cosmopolitan city you have people from various parts of India living in perfect harmony, Idli for breakfast does not make you Tamil, anymore then a love for ma-ki-daal means you love Punjab.
Today my immediate neighbours are a Kashmiri couple, a Marathi manoos married to an 'outsider' and a Parsi family amongst others. We communicate in English. I wouldn't have it any other way.