This article is not about Shiv Sena bashing, because enough people are doing that; and personally, I can’t imagine how Mumbai could have possibly had a normal day on the streets when two million of its citizens were genuinely mourning the death of the Shiv Sena supremo, Balasaheb Thackeray. In fact, before I get into the main article, let me also first say a few things about the Mumbai bandh and the Balasaheb legacy of absolutist fear. Yes, post his death, the fear factor was surely there... and that was a key reason why, even without a formally announced bandh, there was a total bandh in Mumbai. Yes, I also believe that the rest of Maharashtra should have been more normal. However, it is also a fact that this vexing fear that we are talking about and such quasi-bandhs are not really the monopoly of Shiv Sainiks. Bangalore was at a standstill when Rajkumar died a few years ago; there have been bandhs and equal fear of SP goons in UP, and far more fear, door to door, all over West Bengal about CPM goons; and now the same insidious mantle is steadily being taken up by importunate Trinamool party cadres. In India, hero worship is a culture and the loud existence and fear of suppressive political goons almost a pathetic norm in every corner of the nation. What was however very different about Balasaheb Thackeray was that he was the only leader that we have seen – in the midst of all hypocrites and chameleons – who, as my colleague Sutanu wrote in his blog, was always perspicuously consistent. BJP leaders will agree; they have seen all bigwigs – from Omar Abdullah, Mamata Banerjee, Naveen Patnaik, Prafulla Mahanta, M. Karunanidhi, Chandrababu Naidu, Ram Vilas Paswan to J. Jayalalithaa – change sides from being BJP allies at one time, while Balasaheb, along with the Akali Dal, remained their only constant partners. Thus, his cult following has quite strong reasons, and it’s a fact that the so called secular media has been harsher about the Shiv Sainik goons than about the Samajwadi and so called secular Marxist goons.

Having said that, it is shocking how a professor can be arrested in Bengal for forwarding a cartoon on Facebook; how a cartoonist can be arrested for making a cartoon on the government; and unbelievably, how a young girl – Shaheen Dhadha – can be arrested for posting something as basic as: “With all respect, every day, thousands of people die, but still the world moves on. Just due to one politician died a natural death, everyone just goes bonkers. They should know, we are resilient by force, not by choice. When was the last time, did anyone showed some respect or even a two-minute silence for Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Azad, Sukhdev or any of the people because of whom we are free-living Indians? Respect is earned, given, and definitely not forced. Today, Mumbai shuts down due to fear, not due to respect.[sic]” – while another girl can be arrested for liking the post! Shameful! Disgusting! Dictatorial!

I am appalled how power makes people go peremptorily crazy and intolerant. It’s childish and gallingly immature of top leaders of this country to not have even a smattering ability to withstand cartoons made on them or to allow people to joke about them and vent their anger at their policies and thoughts, however correct the politicians might feel they are. At one point of time on Google, when you searched the word ‘idiot’, the name of ‘George Bush’ used to pop up on the first page. And why not? When he or Obama become the president of the United States, there are about 48% of Americans who are against them – from mild to extreme haters of their personality, policies, cult, and ideologies. And when these individuals go on the net and abuse, it’s only logical that even the president of the most powerful nation becomes the most abused man on the internet. Same is the case with Wal-Mart, the largest corporation in the world; and the most abused one too. Our monocratic politicians and leaders need to realize this veridical truth and thank those 51% (often, as low as even 15%) who support them, due to whom they are in power. Our politicians should nurture these supporters and think of ways of doing outstanding work so that they can win the rest over, instead of being in the picayune illusion that arresting the naysayers will solve the problem. It never did; and even if it superficially did in the past, it never will in the new munificent age of internet freedom. And thank god for that, for freedom of speech and expression is the biggest cornerstone of and for an emancipated democracy and humanity. Our iniquitous politicians need to type “Barack Obama Jokes” on any search engine once to see how tolerant that man must be, a gentleman who is the President of the United States. From pestiferous dark humour to odious sarcasm to below-the-belt ripostes, Obama is the butt of all jokes, with numerous belittling joke sites on him and millions of individuals sharing them all the time. And it’s this virtuous ability to never bother about who says what and the incumbent ability to keep doing great work and winning over more and more people and customers that make an Obama, a Bush, a Samsung and a Wal-Mart what they are. In fact, these are the greats who use all the disparaging criticism to their advantage by searching out the real areas for improvement.   Read more....

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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SRK is great! Not just because he is such a star, but because he genuinely is the most amazing person and has such a logical and sound brain. And now the entire nation idolizes this man all the more because he has become a symbol of sheer courage as well! And I think all it required was someone like him to stand up coolly and say, “This is not right, I’ve done nothing wrong and I won’t apologise.” When he was saying this, one could almost see the schoolboy rebel in him – not ready to cow down to an illogical man trying to act as the school headmaster. I am writing this editorial immediately after coming back from a show on NDTV 24x7, which was on the topic, “Is Sena the real power in Mumbai?” I was one of the speakers. It was sad to see Uddhav Thackeray, who was another speaker in that show, sticking to a stance that cannot be defended by any sense of logic. When questioned on the show by the NDTV anchor on his tendentious comments against SRK, Uddhav’s reply was that one should ask the average man on the streets how many times had he (Uddhav) troubled him on similar issues. True, he hasn’t. Then why now? Uddhav’s answer was an illogical “everyone should do their own work rather than commenting on everything” – implying that SRK should keep acting instead of speaking on issues! What a joke! We live in a democracy – and look at what we are saying! That we don’t have the right to speak on subjects of national interest? Unbelievable! And then, there was Gul Panag too on the show, who, in a most apologetic manner, kept stammering that after all, Shiv Sena had the people’s mandate, so they should be respected; and that issuing these kinds of threats wasn’t fair on the Sena’s part. It’s unbelievable we don’t realise that in an illiterate democracy, many people get the so-called “people’s mandate” often; but that doesn’t automatically make them or their actions right!

And then, we had a few others on the show giving exactly similar diplomatic answers. It’s so sad that despite seeing that someone had taken a brave stance and decided to stand up to illogical hooliganism, no one was ready to speak forthrightly in his favour! What’s more amazing is that the entire Bollywood is standing like a mute spectator virtually. It’s sad... Very sad... They make us really feel as if the real power is with the Sena. But the truth is that it isn’t! The real power rests with the State and the intellectuals. Unfortunately, with the intellectuals abandoning their duty and most people more interested in protecting their personal interests, it all becomes an illusion.

Barring once, the Sena has never ever won the assembly elections in Mumbai; and never got more than a 25% mandate in the state! Despite that, we not only see the film fraternity – filled with security-less individuals – not coming forth, but also notice a similar shameful behaviour from the State. It’s time for the State to show its power. And with Rahul Gandhi showing a clear tilt against the Sena, let’s hope this will happen soon. However, what I want to say goes much beyond this.

I want to challenge the very concept of Bombay belonging to Marathi manoos – not just from the perspective of India being a democracy and the city belonging to everyone, but even from the perspective of history. Bombay, till 1960, combined Gujarat and Maharashtra till the two states were separated. What then came to be known as Bombay – that is, today’s Mumbai – was built literally by the Gujaratis and the Parsis, with the Marathi manoos playing a much lesser role. It symbolises the ‘city of the great dream’ – if we were to borrow this phrase from the Great American Dream – where people from everywhere came and chased their dreams. They made Bombay what it is today. Even today, fi ft y percent of people are non-Marathis who run this city – a city that is the backbone of the Indian industry. So even historically, this concept of Bombay being for the Marathi manoos, is incorrect. Of course, one doesn’t really need to care too much about history when the key question is about the democratic right of an Indian to live anywhere he wants and say anything he wants. It’s a shame that such an incident is actually happening... and there is still no guarantee that this will be stopped soon!     Read More....

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