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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Auto permits for Marathi speaking local youth is irrational

Before I talk about this, I know I'll be at loggerheads with the proud Marathi manoos. I also agree that it's the state's responsibility to provide jobs to the local youth. My grandfather was born in the Sangli district of Maharashtra, and father too was born there. Subsequent to my father's birth my grandparents moved to Bombay. I've lived in Bombay for more than two decades, and I don't know Marathi so well that I could have a good conversation. I feel bad about this and I may learn it on my own accord. There are thousands of such people who moved in the erstwhile Bombay and now have a second or third generation living in Mumbai. Few have learnt the language and few didn't.

Moving back by few days, our national marathon orator, the Prime Minister, gave a discourse on Hindi, researched as much as his other topics on history, economics and don't you remember what he said on the science of aeronautics. His speech on Hindi on the Hindi Divas didn't acknowledge that Language is a life and has a natural life span, it will evolve or it will die, coercion will only create cancerous mutation in the language and perhaps it'll die earlier than its natural death. I personally feel upset when languages die before their natural death; Urdu is one such language that didn't get what it deserved and its death is a result of a political gimmickry. Languages must be left to prosper. Why Tamil Nadu has no takers for Hindi? It isn't a natural state of language. When you force a language it repels. Our Hindi ceases to be Hindi that it was originally. We and those who listen to us enjoy a blend of Urdu, English and Hindi; mostly in Mumbai because of the proximity with Bollywood we use Hindi that overlaps with Urdu in every sentence.

Right now, Bombay has always been a melting pot of culture. You'll find families that have lived here for over two or more generations, and yet they speak Gujarati, Parsi, English, Hindi or anything else. I'm born and raised amidst Tamil, Marathi, English, Gujarati, Malyali, Punjabi, Urdu speaking friends, neighbors, classmates and now colleagues. Bombay has always been an all embracing city. Its plurality is its narrative, perhaps that is how many would remember Bombay state when they want to draw a distinction with the city of Mumbai. A standing history of many centuries and several empires cannot be wiped off and renamed. Logically, you can't have a city where every other place is known by the same name.

Issuing permits only to those who speak Marathi in order to provide employment to the local youth is unfair to many others who are domiciled here and yet don't have a functional Marathi. The road and transport authority should focus more on ability than trivia. In a cosmopolitan Mumbai, a Marathi diktat is persona non grata, though we still would like to cherish Marathi and its delightful assembly in literature, cinema and our colloquial.

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Faraz Salat

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Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Admirer of all things that make up a global human society.