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For long, the essential Marathi Mumbaikar has been bestowed with the stereotype of an anti-North Indian figurehead; effervescent hostility, a consequence of the mostly-rural migrants hijacking opportunities in both the public and private sectors. Of late, strained relations have reached their threshold and tension has come to the forefront. Perhaps, it might be a result of Mr. Raj Thackeray’s ill-refined attempt to capture precious seconds of media-fame; it may also be put down to the regional and political insecurities of Mumbai’s segregationist parties. Whatever be the case, such antagonism has definitely proven to be a blemish in Mumbai’s cosmopolitan face.
The commercial capital of India has always been reputed to be a city of dreams; where many rags-to-riches stories have been scripted. Like any other major trading and industrial hub in the world, Mumbai too has witnessed its share of urban and suburban-centric migration. Quite evidently, many have been infected with a belief that the paucity of opportunities is solely a consequence of migratory workers (skilled or unskilled). This distress has subsequently assumed many flavours, to the extent that celebrities’ endorsement of their home states or celebration of regional festivals have become intolerable. What happened to our legendary assimilative culture that historical and political icons so eloquently spoke and wrote about? Why has India’s most successful city turned xenophobic to fellow countrymen??
I’m no prophet of doom, nor do I wish to stake the claim that this hostility is all-pervading. However, one cannot ignore the impact such events have had on our diaspora; the threat of many more recurring events in major cities, backlashes in rural areas and animosity amongst regional communities. We must not fail to realize that these events are not just isolated in its impact on Mumbai.
Now at the brink of superpowerdom, India faces a herculean task in promoting and ensuring all-round development sans boundaries. A goal that simply cannot attain fruition if its citizens don’t trust each other.