Muppadhu kodi mugamudayal
Enil maipuram ondrudayal
Ival Seppumozhi padhinetudayal
Enil Sindhanai ondrudayal
(This Bharatmata has 30 crore faces
But her body is one
She speaks 18 languages
But her thought is one)
Tamil poet Subramania Bharathi
Bhedad gana vinauyanti bhinnah supajapah paraih
Tasmat samghatayogesu prayateran ganah sada
(Republics have been destroyed because of internal divisions among the people;
Hence a republic should always strive to achieve unity and good relations among the people)
Mahabharat, Shanti Parva, chapter 108, shloka 14
Tesam anyonyabhinnanam svauaktim anutisthatam
Nigrahah panditaih karyah ksipram eva pradhanatah
(Therefore the wise authorities should crush the separatist forces trying to assert their strength)
Mahabharat, Shanti Parva, 108:26
Political leaders, film stars, cricketers, etc. are all falling over one another to pay tribute to the late Bal Thackeray. Amidst this plethora of accolades and plaudits pouring in from the high and mighty, I humbly wish to register my vote of dissent.
I know of the maxim De mortuis nil nisi bonum (of the dead speak only good), but I regret I cannot, since I regard the interest of my country above observance of civil proprieties.
What is Bal Thackeray’s legacy?
It is the anti-national ‘sons of the soil’ (bhumiputra) theory.
Article 1(1) of the Indian Constitution states: “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”
Thus, India is not a confederation but a union.
Article 19 (1) (e) states: “All citizens shall have the right — to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.”
Thus, it is a fundamental right of a Gujarati, south Indian, Bihari, U.P.ite, or person from any other part of India to migrate to Maharashtra and settle down there, just as it is of Maharashtrians to settle down in any part of India (though there are some restrictions in J&K, and some North-East States, due to historical reasons).
The bhumiputra theory states that Maharashtra essentially belongs to Marathi people, while Gujaratis, south Indians, north Indians, etc. are outsiders. This is in the teeth of Articles 1(1) and 19(1)(e) of the Constitution. India is one nation, and hence non-Maharashtrians cannot be treated as outsiders in Maharashtra.
The Shiv Sena created by Thackeray attacked south Indians in the 1960s and 70s, and vandalised their restaurants and homes. In 2008, Biharis and U.P.ites living in Mumbai (the bhaiyyas who eke out a livelihood as milk and newspaper vendors, taxi drivers etc.) were described as infiltrators and attacked, their taxis smashed, and several beaten up. Muslims were also vilified
This, of course, created a vote bank for Thackeray based on hatred (as had Hitler, of whom Thackeray was an admirer), and how does it matter if the country breaks up and is Balkanised?
Apart from the objection to the ‘sons of the soil’ theory for being anti-national and unconstitutional, there is an even more basic objection, which may rebound on Thackeray’s own people.
India is broadly a country of immigrants (like North America) and 92-93 per cent of the people living in India today are not the original inhabitants but descendants of immigrants who came mainly from the north-west seeking a comfortable life in the sub-continent (see the article ‘What is India?’ on my blog justicekatju.blogspot.in and the video on the website kgfindia.com ).
The original inhabitants (the real bhumiputra) of India are the pre-Dravidian tribals, known as Adivasis (the Bhils, Gonds, Santhals, Todas, etc.) who are only 7-8 per cent of our population today.
Hence if the bhumiputra theory is seriously implemented, 92-93 per cent of Maharashtrians (including, perhaps, the Thackeray family) may have to be regarded as outsiders and treated accordingly. The only real bhumiputra in Maharashtra are the Bhils and other tribals, who are only 7-8 per cent of the population of Maharashtra.
Several separatist and fissiparous forces are at work in India today (including the bhumiputra theory). All patriotic people must combat these forces.
Why must we remain united? We must remain united because only a massive modern industry can generate the huge wealth we require for the welfare of our people — agriculture alone cannot do this — and modern industry requires a huge market. Only a united India can provide the huge market for the modern industry we must create to abolish poverty, unemployment and other social evils, and to provide for the huge health care and modern education systems we must set up if we wish to come to the front ranks of the most advanced countries.
Hence I regret I cannot pay any tribute to Mr. Bal Thackeray.
(Markandey Katju is Chairman, Press Council of India.)
The article was published in The Hindu.