Rapid Urbanization is drawing people from all sides and walks of life and my city Bangalore (aka Bengaluru ) which has been my home for the past 14 years is a perfect metamorphosis of this kind of transformation in Indian cities. Here I live without any fear of recrimination or any other baggage as I belong to the state & identify with its ethic culture. In a sense I live free of fear or favour.
But I cannot say the same of a lot of my friends & acquaintances from outside the state who form ¾ of the city population. Though there is apparent calm and tranquility on the surface, most of these people live in mortal fear of recrimination as it happened in the case of the Cauvery water crisis or during Dr.Rajkumar (a noted Kannada personality & Film thespian ) death.
I wonder what went through the mind of my neighbor, from chennai, when he had big pictures of Dr.Raj pasted on his front and rear glass of his car during a few days after his death. Minor trouble did break out during his funeral procession (allegedly engineered by a big time local politician) but thankfully it did not take any linguistic colour.
My thoughts are drawn to the hackney raised by KRV (Karnataka Rakshana Vedike) and that of MNS (Maharashtra Navanirman Sena) and patterns that follow a common diabolical agenda to attain political puberty and arrive on the electoral stage. Both of them appeal to the so called asmita or pride drawn on the rich culture and heritage of their respective linguistic domains. Both entities have conveniently found out that it’s not the upwardly mobile or the rich highly educated and cosmopolitan people of their community that find an immediate audience but the large mass of poor , under educated and marginal segments who wage a daily fight for their existence.
And what better platform to voice this in the lower rungs of Railway recruitment Jobs! Railways after all is the mother of all recruiters in this country (read largest Govt recruiter). Both entities also took on popular film superstars & made them bow to their diktats. Both are fringe parties without any political base, KRV does not have even a single representative in the state assembly, and their agenda and manifesto is unique in the sense that it is not pursued by any of the main stream political parties. This gives them a virgin political bandwidth to drum up mass emotions on linguistic chauvinism. Both states incidentally does not have a regional party like Telugu Desam or DMK/AIADMK to root this kind of identity.
In Mumbai where certain professions are dominated by UP/Bihari’s like the Taxiwallas, chaatwallas or Halwaies , Bangalore exhibits similar patterns. Your neighborhood Ironman, Sweeper , domestic helper or office support staff could most probably be a Tamilian so as the likelihood of your neighborhood Bakery, Tea stall or Provision store wallah being a Malayali. I am drawing this on my common observation and is not meant to demean in any sense.
In fact I admire and respect their sheer tenacity and hard work and find them glowing examples in entrepreneurism. But try explaining this to the local farmer from Mandya, a local who did not know any language except Kannada and came to work as a watchman in my apartment but was unceremoniously kicked out because he dint know Hindi and could not converse with most of the people in the apartment!
This is the kind of grist that keep the mills of KRV & MNS working overtime