February 01, 2010

Question about belonging

"Mumbai belongs to all Indians."

Words (or slight variations) pronounced in recent weeks by Sachin Tendulkar, Mukesh Ambani, Mohan Bhagwat and many other Indians.

Question: why are these words so offensive to some?

This is a serious question. I really would like to know. Those willing to answer it seriously, please go ahead. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

I blogged about the same in Oct 2009 (http://bit.ly/dhnGq5). But seriously have been having a tough time trying to comprehend where are we as Indians moving. Politicians taking pride in taking oath in their native language, no licence to people who can't speak Marathi, if this continues it isn't far when people who are not born in Mumbai won't be allowed to stay there, leave aside work.

kamalakar said...

I thought the matter was pretty clear - real estate vested interest. The fuel that is burning Hyderabad too.

Sapathan said...

Yes. it is offensive when those people say it. Because their position and context makes what they say patronizing and callous.

Mukesh Ambani or Sachin Tendulkar or Sharukh Khan will never feel the threat of losing one's identity in one's own city. In fact they are so high up on the scale, it does not matter to them whether they live in Paris or Mumbai or NYC. Their life will pretty much remain the same. And then for them to lecture to the average citizen about some feigned notion of national integrity is a bit rich. Well, they are that -- so I guess it comes naturally to them.

There is no easy solution and don't turn this on its head asking me if all places should remain closed to all other peoples and therefore their influences. After all, the entire populations of Haiti or Ethiopia is not transplanted to Park Avenue. So, the answer can't be either-or.

Political dignity is after all an alibi for remnants tribalism. The reason we call it political dignity these days is that it makes those assuming that get some sense of victory and thus keeps them quiet. Take that away, the equilibrium is lost and there will be violence sooner or later. Shiv Sena is a mere symptom of that.

Egalitarian cosmopolitanism is also much like democracy. Can't be imposed. Be it Iraq or in Mumbai.I don't see much difference between Bush and the three men you've mentioned -- except, the former the commander-in-chief of the world's mightiest army. In fact, this brings me to the question: are you against Article 370 now?

Anonymous said...

"The reason we call it political dignity these days is that it makes those assuming that get some sense of victory and thus keeps them quiet."

Honestly Sapathan, I have tried for half an hour to understand this sentence. But failed. No offence meant. Who is quiet, who is getting vicotry? Can you pls explain??

Azous D'Pilid said...

It's offensive to some, because they have their heads up their arseholes. What a coincidence - so do you! Yay!

Manmohan Singh said...

Please wait - I will ask Soniaji and find out whether Mumbai is for all Indians or not.

Shahrukh Khan said...

Listen buddy, they repealed Article 377. This means you and me can go public now. Who cares about Mumbai?

Anonymous said...

"Offensive -- it is a gut feeling of animus, arising from the indoctrinated, the insecure and the inimical." --Shavitt Upjoras

Everybody be nice and answer Dilip's question using your intellect, not your go cloaca.

Sapathan said...

Azous D'Pilid: such tactics are so last decade. You need evolve.

Srivats said...

Sapthan: I am not a mumbaite, but I have been to mumbai enough times to understand what the city is all about. I need you to answer one question, if you chuck all those so called "others" out of mumbai, may be you could get you identity back. But you should pause to think whether mumbai can retain its identity. Do you really want to live in a city without an identity with you own identity intact.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Sapathan, fine, if those guys saying it makes you bring up their "position and context", what about these three random others who say it too (and I'm delberately picking only Maharashtrians, with long roots in this city)?

* A Marathi short-story writer (regularly appears in Diwali ankhs) whom I know well: born and raised and still lives in the heart of this city.

* A mathematician at a scientific institute in this city.

* The Marathi speaking security guard from Nala Sopara who works at a building site near where I live.

None of them would be able to live in Paris or NYC, but none of them seem in any fear of losing their identity here. They are comfortable, confident residents of this great city.

Why is their vision of themselves, identity and Mumbai itself not more attractive to you than the weak and fearful one the Senas peddle?

Sapathan said...

Srivats, Dilip: I do not live in Mumbai and what my ethnic/linguistic background is irrelevant. My point is not about the specifics. And neither is it about Shiv Sena. In fact, it's not even about Mumbai. I thought that was made clear.

I am merely saying, there is an inevitable loss of identity in this process of cosmopolitanism. Whether that's good or bad thing or whether there are many who embrace or reject it is besides the point.

And Dilip, if you say those three people say what they do, there are probably three others who say they are saddened that the cultural repository of Mumbai is not Marathi anymore. Whether it ever was Marathi and why should it be that is irrelevant.

And what is attractive to me is besides the point Dilip. This is not an either/ or problem as I mentioned previously.

Sapathan said...

And tell me this Dilip: if you agree with the idea of India as an entity, why is the idea of Maharashtra as an entity not acceptable to you?

I find it rather hard to believe that people who buy into the idea of a nation state, which is based on some tribal definition in the first place, refuse to buy the argument of sub-tribalism. Either you reject the concept of a nation state or you grapple with the reality of Mumbai today.

People who reject the Shiv Sena would earn my respect if the stopped saying 'Mumbai is for all "Indians"'. Why Indians? Apart from a man-drawn political map, what's the philosophical argument against someone from Peru? Or Chile? Or Ghana? If the argument is taxes or some such, they can always be either drawn up or down to justify either extremes here.

Dilip D'Souza said...

there are probably three others who say they are saddened that the cultural repository of Mumbai is not Marathi anymore.

Which is the point. For every Sena kind who feels threatened by outsiders -- the weak and fearful bit I mentioned -- there are confident Maharashtrians who have no problems of their identity. Why should we not pay attention to their vision instead?

why is the idea of Maharashtra as an entity not acceptable to you?

I never claimed it is not acceptable to me.

Apart from a man-drawn political map, what's the philosophical argument against someone from Peru?

A fine question, and in my mind it is exactly the argument against ideas of identity and nationhood that are founded on lines on a map. To me, the French-speaking doctors I met who were working tirelessly with victims of the 1999 cyclone in Orissa are exemplary Indians regardless of what their passport says. Examplary, because they were exemplary humans above all.

gaddeswarup said...

Here is a pssage from Vikram Chandra's 'The Cult of Authenticity' which may give some hints:
"I will not presume to claim Maharashtra or even the entire city of Bombay as my region. I will only claim part of the western suburbs, let us say north from the highway junction at Mahim causeway, roughly an area containing Dharavi, Bandra West, Khar, Santa Cruz, Juhu, Andheri West, and Goregaon West. This is my region. I live in it, in the locality of Andheri, in the colony called Lokhandwalla.

My region is a hugely cosmopolitan place. Every single person who lives in my region is a cosmopolitan. I am of course a cosmopolitan; I travel away from my region every few months to make a living. My neighbors do also. There are the Gujarati diamond merchants who spend three weeks out of every four travelling from Africa to Belgium to Holland; flight attendants who fly to Beijing; businessmen who sell textiles in Australia; mechanics and welders and engineers who keep Saudi Arabia running; merchant navy sailors who carry cargo to Brazil; nurses who give care and nurture in Sharjah; and gangsters who shuttle between Bombay and Indonesia and Dubai as part of their everyday trade. But there are many other cosmopolitans in my regions. I mean the men who have left their homes in Muzzafarnagar and Patna to drive cabs in Bombay; the chauffeurs who send money home to Trivandrum; the road-laborers from Madhya Pradesh; the maids from the Konkan coast; the cooks from Sylhet in Bangladesh; the Tamil bakers; the struggling actresses from Ludhiana; the security guards from Bihar; the painters from Nashik who stand on roped lengths of bamboo three hundred feet in the air to color Bombay’s lofty skylines. They are all cosmopolitan. A woman born and bred in Dharavi, in the heart of the city, is a cosmopolitan because she lives and works in this city of many nationalities and languages, this city that has become a vatan or homeland for people who have travelled very far from their vatans.

Now, in this, my region, it is very very common for a person to speak one language at home, use another on the street, do business in a third, and make love in a fourth. We do it so often and so universally that to do so excites no comment. It is a part of the way we live. Indians have lived in many languages simultaneously for thousands of years. Did the great Sanskrit playwright Kalidasa speak Sanskrit at home? Maybe he did, and maybe he spoke a Prakrit. We’ll never know for sure. But we do know for certain that the Bombay poet Kalidas Gupta, whose takhallus or nom-de-plume is "Raza," was born in Jullunder, Punjab, in a Punjabi-speaking household. Raza first wrote in Farsi, then in Urdu and English. Raza told me that there are many, many other Urdu poets like him in Bombay, poets like Khawar Bankoti, who speaks Konkani at home, and Abdul Ahad "Saz," who is a native Kutchi speaker. If we look a little further into the subcontinent, we encounter writers like Kaka Saheb Kalelkar, who was a Maharashtrian, but who wrote his travelogues, memoirs, and short stories in Gujarati, and was so ardent about the language he wrote in that the Gujaratis themselves called him "Savai Gujarati," or "One-and-a-quarter-times Gujarati," more Gujarati than the Gujaratis. Vaidyanath Mishra Nagarjuna was born in Bihar, and spoke to his mother in Maithili; he first wrote poetry in Sanskrit, then in Maithili. He won a Sahitya Akademi prize for a Maithili collection, but then switched to writing in Hindi. Raj Kamal Chaudhari was also a Maithili-speaker at home, but wrote his pathbreaking novel about homosexual love, Ek Machili Mari Hui (One Dead Fish) in Hindi. Abbas Wasi "Mareez," the hugely famous poet who is widely regarded as the "Ghalib of the Gujarati ghazal," was an Urdu speaker. Rajinder Singh Bedi was from a Punjabi-speaking Sikh household, but he created literary landmarks in Hindi."
Link http://bostonreview.net/BR25.1/chandra.html

gaddeswarup said...

I have been thinking about your question. I am just a mathematician who off and on takes interest in other things. I am not a writer and I sudied in Telgu medium in school and I still cannot express myself clearly in English. I did spend 15 years in Bombay, some of which I consider as the best years of my life. My experiences are different from Vikram Chandra's. Somebody once said, with some truth, that any region outside Guntur, Krishna districts is a foreign country to me. But I spent fifteen years in Bombay and I liked it. I did not learn Hindi or Marathi ( I am not proud of that fact) though I liked Hindi songs and Marathi dances. My passion was mathematics. Bombay provided the facilities for me to realize that dream which I could not have done anywhere else. I was hotheaded, did not want a guide and wanted to do research by myself. I could not do it ar home but could do it in Bombay. I think people of different ethnicities and backgrounds built Bombay and very different sorts of people from Vikram Chandra to myself benefited from it. I also lived in other cities like Madras, Delhi, Hyderabad and do not remember any other place where I functioned better than in Bombay.I left in 1979 and I do not know what it is like now. During my time, already anti-Madrasi riots started and there were hints of things to come. Possibly, it has something to do with the neglect of the poor who found some succour from the early Shiv Sena organizers. So a possibly short and possibly inaccurate answer is that city was built by many different groups of people and gave opportunities many Indians including rustics like me.

Sapathan said...

Dilip, you are reducing this to a narrow argument to target one set of people. I am just saying, those people are perfectly logical if you buy the super-structure of nationhood. If Maharashtra has a right to exist as an entity as you agree, why should people who inhabit that entity have any less of a right to make themselves exclusive as people of a nation called India do using their passport?

And those doctors were essentially doctors. By calling them exemplary "Indians" you are have reduced yourself to Shiv Sena's position.

Dilip D'Souza said...

a narrow argument to target one set of people.

Which set is that? I have the same argument with people who talk about Karnataka for Kannada speakers, TN for Tamil speakers, etc. In fact the first time I ever felt this chauvinism -- and thus reacted against it -- was in Gujarat many years ago, with a guy who told me to leave the state if I could not speak Gujarati.

Are all these folks part of the same set? This is a serious question too.

why should people who inhabit that entity have any less of a right to make themselves exclusive as people of a nation called India do using their passport?

Because then there's no meaning to a nation called India. If these guys want their own country, let them make that argument.

By calling them exemplary "Indians" you are have reduced yourself to Shiv Sena's position.

How so? I am completely lost here.

OK, if you don't like me citing the French-speaking doctors, how about the Marathi-speaking doctors from Bombay and Amaravati that I also met in Orissa, working after the cyclone? Can I call them exemplary Indians?

Sapathan said...

"Because then there's no meaning to a nation called India. If these guys want their own country, let them make that argument."

That's exactly what I've been saying all this long. India, or for that matter any nation state, exists because of one sense of tribal feeling. And that exact sense is what contributes to Marathi pride, Gujarati pride, Telugu pride etc. So, my argument is, saying one can exist and the other cannot is illogical.

I am not here to make a case for Sena. And it does not matter if they do or don't ask for a nationhood. As a person making the case against chauvinism, you lose your right to claim nationhood of a larger entity that encompasses it.

Anonymous said...

gaddeswarup (q vikram chandra?):

"... Indians have lived in many languages simultaneously for thousands of years..."

is that really true? if the bulk majority of us (rather than a few famous literary figures) have actually done that over that long a time, there would simply *not* be an issue like this IMO.

I think we largely have had significantly distinct identities that sometimes are not even bridged by language (re. Telangana / AP?).

I think the multi-lingualism maybe a more recent thing except maybe between close dialects of what is basically one language.


gaddeswarup said...

To Jai above,
I do not know whether the bulk of the people were multilingual but many kingdoms were over multilingual regions, there is anecdotal evidence many functionaries, traders, and of course people contiguous to border regions spoke more than one languages. Vernacular identities seem to have started after tenth century ( Sheldon Pollck : 'The language of gods in the world of men'). I saw some district gazetters, one from Nasik among them, (still possibly available on the internet)they give lists of many castes of artisans farmers etc and their places of origin, languages spoken at home.
The Andhra/ Telangana separation is more recent. The coastal districts were taken from the Nizam by the British (Ceded districts later) and took a different development route. I think that the Nizam asked the British to give back the coastal districts in the 40s since he did not have access to the coast.
I really do not know much more.

Anonymous said...

A south indian with no roots to Mumbai (me) definitely felt OFFENDED when I heard those statements being repeated.

If Mumbai belongs to Indians, how about Chennai, Kolkota, Delhi, and other places? Obviously, you'll shout YES, OF COURSE.

I know.

Now, please - oh just please - have another place which is supposedly named after Rishi Kashyap (doubts exist, I agree) - a place which had been populated by NATIVES of this land for milleniums to also be EQUALLY BELONGING TO *ALL INDIANS*.

If you still don't know or won't understand what I'm referring to - how does Lalit Koul sound to you? How does Jan 20 1989 and the beautiful 'expansion' of a certain *religion* at the cost of hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris (the TRUE, the NATIVE, the ORIGINAL and the ONE & THE ONLY Kashmiris) being driven away from THEIR LAND sound to you?

Hard, isn't it? Life is hard - however, it is hard for normal people like me. Socialist worms that wean the system to fatten the belly of their horrible progeny will obviously scream certain gibberish - that is a sad fact of our times one has to acknowledge.

Good Bye Anon-757

Anonymous said...

* Note: significant generalization; dont know Mumbai at all *

Thanks gaddeswarup.

Readily conceding your points (kings, tradesmen, boundary areas) I'd still guess 9 out of 10 of our ancestors lived in Xically homogeneous environments (X= religion, caste, language etc).

This is probably true even today for both the 'host' and 'immigrant' communities into cities, they group and clan around in pockets. Its not one big happy mix.

Is Marathi going Yurok in many parts of Mumbai? And is this something to worry about?


Anonymous said...

Its offensive to me as a puppy. It assumes the authority of human (typically man) on all biosphere.

Mumbai belongs to all Indians? What about the animals, the birds, the stones, the trees, the stars, the sky, the wind, the sea, the bacteria, the viri (ya right, if anything Mumbai definitely belongs to them - they have a stronger argument), the cockroaches, the rats, the mice.

What about Indians who are not part of the Republic of India. Does Mumbai belong to Indians from Fiji? Does Mumbai belong to Indians from Suriname? Does Mumbai belong to Pakistanis? Does Mumbai belong to Indians from 1000 BC?
and most importantly, does it belong to Indians from 2050 AD (will there be such a thing?)

Juxtaposed besides the repressive, fascist and nutjob statement "Mumbai belongs to Maharashtrian" it seems very openminded and liberal but if you think about it, its equally ludicrous.

Animals and people who are treated like animals know this, humans will take a long time to understand.

Puppy Manohar
(Baby V)

Anonymous said...

Kind of OT maybe but coincidentally Annie Z had this on her blog.


"Those who belong

Odd term, this. Indigenous. It means native. Natural. Innate. Those who belong to a place.

And in this world of ours, those who belong, those who have the most right over land and resources, if indeed any of us have more of a right over a given territory than any other person - these people are the ones who seem to be getting the worst deal.

According to a UN report:

In Australia, an indigenous child can expect to die 20 years earlier than his non-native compatriot..."

Anonymous said...

Let me try to reshape this discussion. Consider India as a continuum fluid with no surfaces except with Pakistan, China etc. Now imagine we need to create a surface separating Maharashtra from the rest of the fluid, and the osmotic pressure drives IN the Maharashtrans and OUT the non-Maharashtrans. Obviously it takes some energy to create this surface and there will be a surface tension. The question I have is what value will be created by this separation? How will the non-integrated Maharashtra be better than the current situation? Keep in mind that if you agree that the division is valuable, it is inevitable that further subdivision must be also valuable and inevitable and therefore Maharashtra will become a collection of fueding families. In this limit, with families fueding Maharashtra will cease to exist and will re-assimilate with the rest of India as it is today. Therefore submit to you that the current natural equilibrium of diffusion across the borders of Maharashtra be allowed to exist and not be disrupted by Shiv Sena or other radical demographical engineering. If my comment is shorter than Gaddeswarup's I will have to write another one :).

Dilip D'Souza said...

And that exact sense is what contributes to Marathi pride [etc]

My argument is not against Marathi pride. I'm all for that -- in fact I believe the Sena and its believers have no use for Marathi pride. Why, for example, do they do nothing to revive such markers of Marathi cultural identity as the once-vibrant theatre scene, or the magazines?

But that's a subject for another day.

My argument is with this idea that this city "belongs" only to some particular people. It is with the idea that "Mumbai belongs to all Indians" is a somehow offensive statement to make.

Your first remark here was about how Ambani and Tendulkar etc don't feel the threat of losing their identity because they can live anywhere they choose. Does that not apply to the Sena's leaders too?

Anon-757, you're actually citing the tragic expulsion of Hindus from Kashmir as the reason to support the Sena's stand?

What happened in 1989 in Kashmir offended me for the same reason that the ongoing effort to incite Maharashtrians against UP-ites and Biharis offends me. (And as an aside, as offensive was the deep hostility towards Kashmiri Pandits that I encountered in Jammu and Delhi).

Just as it is gratifying that plenty of people in this city refute the Sena's words, it was gratifying to meet plenty of people in Srinagar who bemoan 1989, and would like to have those who left return. This too is a reality of that state.

Sriram said...

"Socialist worms that wean the system to fatten the belly of their horrible progeny will obviously scream certain gibberish".

as ever dcubed, you attract the best commenters. I intend to submit this line to the Bulwyer-Lyton Bad Writing Contest. I'm sure it will win.

Anonymous said...

( advisories:
guessy stats with no real data;
some political incorrectness )

one final attempt to get into a Senekar(?) head.

Do "immigrant" communities in Mumbai recruit the best Indian available for a job oppty they have, or do they prefer somebody from "back home"?

Is this substantial enough for 'locals' to feel angry.

Does a local feel something like:

- Chennai is at say 65% of Mumbai (options for livelihood, education, housing etc) but ~80%+ linguistically homoegenous

- Kolkata maybe 50% of Mumbai but ~90%+ linguistically homogeneous

IF those numbers are close to real, leaving emotion aside, does cold calculated reason make the Senekar wish he coulda turned back the clock and obtained a better deal for him and his in an alternative Mumbai that looked more like these other cities?


Sapathan said...


I have repeated several times here that Shiv Sena is not relevant to this discussion. At least the one I intend to have.

Why you want to revert to the Sena and ignore whatever else I say is something I fail to understand. Unless you are willing to abstract, I have nothing to add.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Sapathan, let me repeat here something I said in response to some previous comments you left, 2-3 months ago: you're a guy who's whole tone speaks of a single-minded determination to find fault, however arcane, and for that, please be my guest.

You're doing it again now, and making out it's me who is evading your comments.

Your previous comment here said, and I quote again, "And that exact sense is what contributes to Marathi pride" [etc].

I responded to precisely that part, because the rest of that comment explicitly says you are "not here to make a case for Sena."

I said, my argument is not against Marathi pride. As an aside, I mentioned that the Sena has no use for Marathi pride, explicitly also saying "that's a subject for another day", meaning I'm not looking for a discussion on that.

I then said, my argument is with this idea that this city "belongs" only to some particular people. It is with the idea that "Mumbai belongs to all Indians" is a somehow offensive statement to make.

Can you please focus solely on that, which is what my original post was about to begin with? That's the only discussion I'm interested in.

I might remind you that the first person to mention the Sena on this page was you. (Third comment, Feb 1 1031 pm).

Sapathan said...

Yes Dilip, that's what I focussed on and you chose to ignore it. By saying Mumbai belongs to Indians you are committing the error in acknowledging one set of tribal feeling and not another. Which I have repeated enough times here. That's what my issue is. To those whose tribalism you ignore (or acknowledge) within that structure, it may be construed as offensive. That's their prerogative.

What you call my obsession with the arcane, I call your inability to abstract. To avoid that, can you please not pick some sentence of mine and actually reply to a comment in entirety?

Dilip D'Souza said...

One last time, Sapathan. What is offensive about "Mumbai belongs to all Indians"? Note, neither I nor Tendulkar nor Ambani etc have ever said, "Mumbai does not belong to Maharashtrians". In other words, nobody is negating what you refer to as "sub-tribal" feelings.

I'm simply trying to find out, what is offensive about that statement.

I realize it is pointless to remind you that I have responded to your comments, so I won't.

Sapathan said...

Umm, did the previous comment not exactly say what maybe offensive to a tribe that's discriminated against in a structure that recognizes another tribe? And how that offense itself is not my problem but the seeming inconsistency of your and possibly Mr Ambani's logic?

I am tempted to conclude you have no interest in actually having a meaningful discussion and instead want a trivial one focused on silly utterances. I hope I am wrong, of course. I don't do last times and first times. So, as long as I see fit I will return

Sapathan said...

Okay, if you don't understand my point let me explain.

Would you agree to the statement, "India belongs to Indians"? Your comments convince me you accept that position. Now, my question is, ignoring the tautological position, why do you agree to that? The answer to that is, I assume, you accept the right of one set of people to define and own their own nation.

Now, if you extend that to Mumbai or Maharastra, the logic holds perfectly fine. Just as saying India belongs to all the world may be offensive to some Indians, some Maharastrians may take offense at Mumbai for all Indians. In fact, to the Maharastrian or Tamilian or Manipuri, why is the person from UP any different than one from Peru? If tribalism in one form is accepted, then offense follows naturally.

So, you can't say "Indian" and wonder why some people take offense. Your question is valid if the offense was at humanity, not Indians. Or as another commenter said, puppies and other species.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Sapathan, you're free to conclude whatever you want, to do or not do first and last and middle times as you like, to see fit or not and return or not. To find fault, too.

The people of India constituted a nation in 1947. That's when all of India came to belong to all Indians, rather than bits of it belonging to some princely state or Nawab-dom. Nowhere in that compact was it said, nor was it taken to mean, that being Indian meant you had to negate your sense of being Marathi, or Gujarati, or Tamil.

In exactly the same way, saying "Mumbai belongs to all Indians" in no way implies that it does not belong to Maharashtrians, or that Maharashtrians need to lose or give up their identity.

Of course offence has been taken (or "flowed", to use your term). I'm trying to point out that it's misplaced and uncalled for. If Sachin T had said "Mumbai does not belong to Maharashtrians", it would have offended me too. But he did not say that.

You say "Your question is valid if the offense was at humanity, not Indians."

Are you trying to suggest that if Sachin T had said "Mumbai belongs to all humanity", there would have been no offense taken?

Taking this tribalism argument further, why are the same folks who are annoyed by "Mumbai belongs to all Indians" also annoyed by demands for carving out a state of Vidarbha?

Anonymous said...

Maybe there is an interesting conv. ongoing btwn Dilip & Sapathan rather than some 3-on-3 basketball I noticed earlier....

but I couldnt get past the 4th para in Sapathan's opener

"Political dignity is after all....equilibrium is lost"

and have no context to know exactly whats happening there. congrats to anybody who is following that thread :-) and all the best.


Sapathan said...


You still commit the same logical flaw in trying to force fit an either-or solution to what I had deemed, and you had not refuted, as a problem statement that had multiple roots. It does not matter what else Sachin T should have said. He said X and set A took offense. That does not mean him saying X-compliment will become non offense causing. Or that another set B should not take offense at that.

And the Indian State/ Constitution is an ad-hoc solution to this problem statement while tribal sets precede that solution. The very fact such sets demand/seek solution spaces beyond what the Constitution deems as Universal set is proof that the limits of the constitution are ad-hoc.

The other problem I have with your phrasing is that -- you seem to indicate there is a correct position and a wrong position in this. Which is again a meta either-or solution. If that were the case the existing computing prowess of the world would have long replaced humans.

One more thing (repeated again): please stop picking random half sentences of my comment to reply to. They distort the discussion and more importantly I don't think them through well enough for all of them to stand by themselves.

Anonymous said...


@"The people of India constituted a nation in 1947. That's when all of India came to belong to all Indians, rather than bits of it belonging to some princely state or Nawab-dom. Nowhere in that compact was it said, nor was it taken to mean, that being Indian meant you had to negate your sense of being Marathi, or Gujarati, or Tamil."

lame dude. seriously lame. buying in to creation myths are we?

avik said...

I think, I get what Sapthan is trying to say. It's a theoretical endeavor, to understand why certain people find the said statement offensive (which does not mean their feeling is right or wrong, that's not the point).

To Dilip, will you like the statement "India belongs to all humans" or something of that sort. I am sure, some Indians (maybe you too) find that offensive. Because, that statement invariably means, we Indians do not have a 'exclusive' membership in this club called India. And that causes problem. A similar mindset is at work here. Again, I'm repeating, I'm not supporting or opposing the statement, or Shiv Sena or any celebs like SRK et al. But I feel, the question raised by Sapthan is intriguing. Upto which point, defending your right/identity/ownership/exclusivity is acceptable and at which point it becomes regional (or tribal/sub-tribal) is an interesting question and I thank Sapthan to give something to ponder upon. :)

Sapathan said...

Yay! Coming back a million times makes one person get me.

But don't they say it's the first million that's the hardest?

Karvy said...

but what is the question raised by Sapathan? i don't see any logic in it at all.

there are lines we all agree to draw on the map, and those define what we call nation-states, or countries. that's a solution to living with other human beings that we worked out many centuries ago. partof that definition or agreement is that within those lines (borders), people come and go as they please.

that's what is happening here. if sapathan argues that we should must extend the same reasoning to every sub-tribal group (to use his own term), thats' in principle fine - except that those groups must then agitate for their own country, thats all. self-determination and identity is not the issue here - i welcome it and my sense is that dcubed does too. but if you want to deny entry to or claim exclusive ownership over, some part of the country, then you need to do it by making the case for a separate country. if you succeed in that effort, fine. i will abide by your claims of exclusivity.

but if you and i belong to the same country, then every part of this country belongs equally to both you and i and everyone else who lives here.

i don't see what there is to get in sapathan's argument. because it really does not hold.

Sapathan said...


Which is why I said it's not an either-or problem. I don't claim to have solutions to complex issues here. If I did, I will not be trolling blogs. I am merely saying there is a philosophical basis for taking offense. That is all.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Sapathan, there is no argument with your statement that there is a basis for taking offence. If that's what you're saying, what I'm saying is that that offence is misplaced and uncalled for (because nobody has once said that Mumbai does not belong to Maharashtrians).

Sapathan said...

Dilip, your question was: why are these words so offensive to some?

I gave you a philosophical basis for that offense. As I have said in each of my million comebacks, I don't know and don't care what is misplaced or uncalled for or who places or calls them. Right vs Wrong is something that's irrelevant to my case. And, your question as it was phrased originally.

Dilip D'Souza said...

You may not know or care, that's up to you.

When a claimed offence is reason to attack people and drive wedges between them, it's important, I think, to show that the offence is either misplaced or uncalled for or both. It doesn't interest me to simply say yes, it has a philosophical basis, and sit back. this is why I asked the question in the first place.

Sapathan said...

I apologize for giving you a philosophical basis when you were not interested in it. Though your question did ask for it.

By the way, this basis has nothing to do with you sitting back or running 100m in 9s or beating some Sena activists up. You may do any or all of them and that is still irrelevant either way to our conclusion.

Ketan said...

Ownership is a concept difficult to define. The integral corollary of ownership is exclusion. If there is no exclusion, there is no ownership.

To explain the reason a few Maharashtrians could feel offended by the assertion that Mumbai belongs to all Indians, consider the following analogy:


Let's say your son is living in his bedroom. Your house in which your son's bedroom is, is rightfully owned by you, because you or some ancestor had paid for the plot on which it lies. But imagine, before your son is born, the housing society in which you live had reached a consensus that every one in the housing society has a right to live in anyone's bedroom without your son's consent. Till this law remains on paper, it is alright. But your son would definitely be annoyed if some people from other flats start sleeping in the same bed as him, displacing him in the process. What was "his" till yesterday now has suddenly become "everyone's". To you and your son, the statement that your son's bedroom belongs to the entire housing society would be definitely an offensive one. It would not matter that you can use the same excuse to enter someone else's bedroom.


You might be tempted to point out that you had "bought" the plot from someone so that it now "belongs" to you. But the problem is how did it come to belong to the one you had bought it from? How did the plot "belong" to someone for the very first time? In other words, who was the first owner of your plot? By what mechanism did it come to belong to him and by extension not to others? Possibly, because of having settled there first.

Now, think of Mumbai as your son's bedroom and Maharashtra as your apartment and India as the housing society.

Under the hypothetical situation I pointed out, you might want to break away from the housing society. If one removes the compulsion of political correctness, every state political party would like nationhood for their state especially if that state gives out more tax than what it gets in return from the Union government. If people will start settling in your son's bedroom, no more would you feel like being part of the same housing society.

I'm not implying that Mumbai belongs only to original settlers, which would anyway be fishermen and their fishes and not Maharashtrians from outside Mumbai as some people would like to say, but that when something used by you daily becomes communal you'll be annoyed.

Ketan said...

I think if I have to rephrase Sapathan's fundamental argument, it is this:

If you draw a 2 cm diameter circle 'A' in a 4 cm diameter circle 'B', which in turn would be in a 6 cm circle 'C', then why should circle A "belong" only to circle C and not 'D' which would have diameter 8 cm encompassing circle C? Basically any diameter greater than 2 cm is merely arbitrary. Why such an obsession with diameter 6 cm? Why not a diameter smaller or larger than that (respectively, Maharashtra and Asia)?

The drafting of a consensus-based constitution that demarcates India, is merely a legal bond, it is not necessarily the ethically and logically the best method to allot pieces of land and their ownership. There is no logic behind 8 cm. It is merely arbitrary.

I'm glad Sapathan has clarified that what he wanted to point out was the philosophical and ethical aspect of the discussion, because honestly the issue is very complex, and practically speaking, according to me solution, if at all existent, lies in strict restriction of rate of growth of population, development of new foci of urbanization, like NOIDA and Gurgaon, so that existing urban areas (not just Mumbai) are not overburdened with immigration.

The need for urbanization is acute because though for long we all have been harping on 70 percent Indians live in villages, fact of the matter is, so many don't even require to live in villages! Because 70 percent households don't require to feed 100 percent population. Agriculture by 70 percent households is all disguised unemployment!

Ketan said...

@ Sapathan:

Do you write a blog? I would like to read it. :)