Does India need Raj Thackeray?

Suhel Seth nails it in this article posted in Deccan Chronicle. Sums up exactly what i would have wanted to write. Am copying the full article below for easy reading. Pretty long article, but worth reading.

Does India need Raj Thackeray?
By Suhel Seth

I sometimes wonder what we have done as a nation to deserve politicians who continue to spew venom, who love to divide our country at the smallest opportunity and who don’t bat an eyelid about being blasphemous. I abhor the fact that the state is impotent and weak and can’t do very much about the mess that these people create. I then come to the conclusion that perhaps India deserves the politicians it has. We have a system that feeds on caste politics and Raj Thackeray is just a symbol of this feeding frenzy. He is just another one who believes that the politics of hatred will get him far, not realising for a moment that the common man is now fed up of this daily interruption which manifests itself in violence and more violence.

I was in Mumbai last week when Raj Thackeray and his utterances resulted in people being beaten up, small businesses being disrupted; not to mention the harrowing tragedies that these caused to the hapless citizens of Mumbai.

But then are we, as citizens, ever going to become more demanding? Accountability is a virtue very few of us possess and this is partly because we are too lazy and too mired in our own inadequacies to even consider bringing about a fundamental change in the way we think, in the way we vote and in the manner in which we select our politicians. The reasons for inaction are equally ludicrous. Vilasrao Deshmukh did not want to arrest Raj Thackeray since it would cause unbearable pressure on the state administration at a time when the President and the Prime Minister were visiting the state. The common man, once again, did not matter. It is almost as if the entire police force exists only to ensure smooth entries and exits for our heads of state and government. For Deshmukh, the misery of the common man and the emotional trauma that Raj Thackeray’s utterances cause are insignificant when compared to the effort that must go into a presidential visit.

While civil society in Mumbai is normally quick to condemn such utterances, their silence this time round was not a silence which signalled agreement, but instead one which signalled fear — and this is my worry. Civil society can no longer choose its battles. It must seem united against any form of oppression, and it is more important for the average Mumbaikar to protest this drivel that Raj Thackeray and his ilk utter rather than accept it as the sayings of a deranged or perhaps depraved mind.

I cannot imagine that Raj Thackeray actually believes what he said about the Marathi Manoos. This is political posturing, but one which is dangerous to the fabric of this nation. What is even more terrifying is that this idiom of pernicious belief is now becoming a means of gathering votes, something that even the Election Commission chooses to ignore. Add to the fact that on the day Raj Thackeray should have been in jail, he was busy attending the Mumbai police commissioner’s dinner, makes the nexus so apparent. But even this was not condemned with the shrillness that it deserved.

All this makes me wonder if we are slowly becoming a banana republic where everything passes muster only because people neither have the conviction nor the courage to raise their voices against all of this divisiveness. There is a palpable fear of politicians, which is different from the past. Today, in some strange way, we not only disrespect people in politics, we even fear them, for we know not what the consequences may be. We are failing to realise that in essence people like Raj Thackeray are cowards who want to pretend they are powerful, and in their intellectual bullying lies their enduring failure.

It would however be unfortunate if we only blamed Raj Thackeray. He is nothing but a poster-boy for such malicious thinking, but he is not alone. He represents a degraded political system which refuses to fight atrocities, especially when people from within are the ones that are causing this rapid decay. I am a great believer that this country has enough resilience, except that we have stopped expressing it. We are mentally lethargic, and what’s more, unwilling to take a stand. We are happy with mere tokenism, so there will be the usual effigy burning; but you won’t bury this once and for all by taking determined deterrent action. And this is what I missed in Mumbai last week.

The country and those who run it need to realise that Mumbai is more than a city. It is a symbol of India’s commercial and economic prowess. It is about surmounting odds and living the dream. It cannot afford nightmares like Raj Thackeray and his ilk, which is why decisive action would have worked. But like in most things in this country, we have postponed the problem. This will come to haunt us very soon. Only then will we realise that this country is in the habit of rearing demons that inflict so much destruction which we neither fathom nor prevent. In a strange way, we are suicidal, which is why perhaps we deserve the Thackerays and the Sorens and the Modis. I guess we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Above article courtesy: Deccan Chronicle