Tuesday, May 25, 2010

jai maharashtra !

i have been wanting to blog on the 50th anniversary of the state of maharashtra for quite sometime. other preoccupations came in the way. finally,i decided to put my thoughts down.

in may 1960, i first set my foot in bombay ( mumbai). i had finished my school final examination in calcutta (kolkata). my late father who was working for an insurance company was transferred and we all siblings eagerly looked forward to our stay in bombay.i must stay i was absolutely fascinated.i enjoyed the monsoon seasons-it would rain continuously for days together.something i had never experienced before.my college was st xavier's which was just 15 minutes' walk from our home.i liked the crispy masala dosas at the udipi restaurants and me and my classmates would walk all the way to a hotel near metro cinema for some tongue tickling puri bhaaji.the occasional movies that i saw were in 'capitol' cinema which has now been shut down. i would go with my mom to the byculla vegetable market which i very much enjoyed.phanaswadi temple and matunga were our other favourite visiting places.we used to see some marathi and gujerati dramas and watch some dance performances occasionally.my mother used to wear a nine-yard saree. and i liked the way maharashtrian women wrapped the navvari around themselves. drama and classical sangeet was at its zenith then.

it is difficult to believe that 50 years have passed since then, lot of changes have taken place in this city, besides bombay being rechristened mumbai. from what was a beautiful city with cleanliness,organised traffic,beautiful buildings and unpolluted air all around, the maximum city has now become overcrowded,dirty and very polluted. and a concrete jungle.

there are many problems that the state of maharashtra now faces. a power surplus state has become power deficit. farmers are committing suicide unable to repay the loans that they have taken. lot of workers have been thrown out of there jobs and many now live in penury. divisive forces are trying to split the state further.i wonder what the average maharashtrian feels. is he happy about the economic growth that has taken place or does he feel that people from other states have taken the lion's share of jobs and left the crumbs to the local populace.economic growth must be balanced and reforms must percolate down to the masses. if that doesn't happen,tensions are bound to take place.economic prosperity cannot be the privilege of a few. prosperity has to be distributed. no doubt there will always be the rich and poor; but the gap in incomes should not be huge. everone deserves a good living.

if all of us can put our acts together and learn living with others in peace and harmony, maharashtra can again become the No 1 state. it lost its prime position some fifteen years ago. dabbawallahs, dalal street, ganesh utsav and bollywood are now known internationally. that makes every mumbaikar and marathi manoos proud. though dharavi is the world's largest slum, the enterprise over there is unbelievable.

traditional maharashtrian delicacies have now become hugely popular.be it puran poli or ukadiche modak.zunka-bhakar,wada-paav,thalipeeth,misal paav or usal. and last but not the least, the mouth watering shrikand.restaurants offering maharashtrian cuisine have become a preferred destination for many. i am sure these ethnic dishes will find their place in menu cards in restaurants abroad soon.

in sum,great achievements have been made in the last fifty years.outstanding sportsmen and artists have brought fame and prestige to maharashtra. just like great farmers,entrepreneurs and industrialists who have put mumbai and maharashtra on the international map. but we must remember that mumbai is not maharashtra. it is only a part of maharashtra. let us just not look at what is happening in mumbai alone. significant improvements in the standard of living,health care and education must take place all over this great state.politicians will have to learn to serve the people and ensure that roti kapda aur makan spreads to all sections of people across the state.every child must be provided with free education and health benefits must be extended to one and all. the fruits of economic growth must each every nook and corner of maharashtra. only then the sacrifices of those who laid down their lives for separate statehood would not have gone in vain.

i love mumbai. i can speak the lingo and i am proud to be a mumbai manoos.i am sure maharashtra will recapture the number 1 state position soon.

jai shivaji maharaj!.jai maharashtra!!