Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Strike two

Fellow citizens, beware of being a public personality. Especially beware of being a public personality in Mumbai. And if you have the misfortune of being both, better learn Marathi pronto.

If certain individuals in Mumbai are to be believed, not speaking the language, even though you've stayed here for decades, is tantamount to being a traitor. Never mind that Hindi is our national language; never mind that you, as an individual, have made significant contributions to the pride and culture of your country.

What's the point of all this? Gujarat is all for Narendra Modi, not because of his ideologies, but because of all that he's done for the economy and security of the state. Ditto for the State Government in Delhi. Given that Maharashtra is plagued with even bigger problems, aren't there many other grassroots issues for over-enthusiastic politicians to handle? Issues that would give them the necessary political mileage and lots of positive press, and in the process, also create some benefits for the aam junta.

Marathi is already a compulsory language or a compulsory third language in many schools, and generations of non-Maharashtrians speak it with more comfort than their so-called native tongues. Vijay Tendulkar's plays are just an instance of how popular Marathi literature is.

And if the concerned gentleman feels so strongly about his Marathi antecedents, why not organize poetry reading sessions and other literary activities that would induce people to know and appreciate the language? Why is it that so many public reading rooms are closing down, when the Marathi language has such vociferous well-wishers?

As usual, issues are made out of non-issues for some quick brownie points; while the real issues languish by the wayside, along with the scores of people they affect.