ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Identity and Exclusion

The Raj Thackeray episode is indeed unfortunate; however, I beg to differ with most of your editorial. Viewed in terms of regional politics, this indeed is an unfortunate incident. However, it also makes clear that there is a market for such politics and the have-nots may not be the only buyers as often surmised. To this extent, your response is of the “blame it on the market” variety. While there is a grain of truth to the notion of the perils of market-led growth, we cannot overlook the fact that whatever is happening today also has its roots in the institutions and socio-economic forces of the pre-reform period. It is also high time we accept that in the absence of any kind of intervention, migration from the northern states to the western and southern states is going to be a fact of life. To this extent, the popular English and Marathi media have not played a very constructive role in educating the general public about the changing socio-economic climate and the ways to deal with impending social tensions.

While it is true that the cities are a much more complex identity today than earlier, region as an identity marker should not come as a surprise. It is evident even in the voting patterns for the central elections, with the share of regional parties steadily going up. So the question about why region is emerging as an identity marker is much deeper than why people buy Raj Thackeray’s arguments. Fragmentation of identity on regional grounds may be an effect of the fact that most of the states that are growing faster are all non-Hindi speaking states and hence reflects the effects of economic outcomes on the sharing of political and social power. It may be even a response to the decades of Congress’ “pork barrel politics” that favoured the northern states. Politicians will engage in parochial politics if it helps but at the same time otherwise noble policies can also contribute to create a market for such agendas.

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