What on earth are we doing to this lovely country we call our home, our motherland? Why are we forgetting that we are Indians first, last and always? Sub-nationalism is taking on new colours and is threatening the essential unity of this great nation, for which thousands fought and died since 1857. Did Bhagat Singh go to the gallows to see the Thackeray clan'sgoons drive Bihari labourers out of Maharashtra? Or to see Karnataka Rakshana Vedike activists go on a rampage damaging trucks boarding Tamil Nadu registration? Members of the Vedike have been indulging in outrageous acts such as stopping Tamil films being shown in Bangalore and stoning the office of a cable TV network in a bid to stop it from relaying Tamil programmes.
What kind of rakhshana are these rowdies providing to Karnataka? If they want to preserve the essential character of Kannada, they must tell those activists appearing in Kannada channels not to intersperse English words even in ordinary conversation. In reply to goondaism in Karnataka, their counterparts in Chennai have been rampaging in Chennai, attacking restaurants set up allegedly by Kannadigas: wreaking unheard of damage to property. And one understands that these were not goons but educated lawyers who presumably are conversant about law and order. What sort of madness is it that is overtaking this country? Bihari labour is being driven out from the north east. They are not wanted in Jammu and Kashmir either.
In the first week of February, 60,000 migrant labourers left Nasik and 40,000 from Pune. Many industrial units have been apparently closed down in Maharashtra because north Indian workers have been driven out. Several steel units, not to speak of construction activities are indefinitely closed down. One would have imagined that these developments would have been taken notice of by our ?leaders?. When there was strong anti-Hindi agitation in Chennai in the sixties, Indira Gandhi had the courage and foresight to rush to Tamil Nadu to cool down tempers. In contrast, Sonia Gandhi has gone to Rajasthan, mainly to run down the BJP. The south is burning, but Sonia Gandhi can only think of ridiculing L.K.Adavani and Jaswant Singh over a minor controversy. It is to this sad state of national degradation that this country has been reduced.
What is it that has set Tamil Nadu against Karnataka? There is a dispute between the two states over the setting up of a project at a place called Hogenakkal, situated on their mutual border, allegedly for the supply of drinking water to Tamil Nadu. The estimated cost of the Project has been placed at Rs 1,340 crore, no small sum. This project is part of the outstanding and unresolved larger issue of equitable sharing of the waters of the river Kaveri (Cauvery) between the two riparian states. The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal had given its verdict last year, but unhappy with it, both the states had appealed to the Supreme Court where the petitions are reportedly pending. Wisdom dictated that a mutually agreed solution should be worked out between the two concerned states; instead, the matter has been turned into high level dissonance with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister making harsh statements unbecoming of anyone, let alone a Chief Minister.
Karunanidhi has since shown signs of wisdom and announced categorically that ?no room should be given to violence? and Karnataka'sS.M.Krishan has reciprocally called him ?magnanimous?, both welcome statements, if somewhat belated, even if Karunanidhi keeps talking about Tamil ?Self respect?. Nobody in his right mind would want to wound any state'sself-respect. That should go without saving. In this regard, two points need to be made: One is that India is not a confederation of independent States. It is one and indivisible. No state can claim arbitrary rights to the use of water flowing in a river that passes through one or two other states. Maharashtra is having differences with Andhra Pradesh over the waters of the Godavari. Andhra Pradesh is objecting to the construction of the Babhli Barrage in Maharashtra, claiming that it intrudes into the water shortage area of Pachampad Dam, also known as Shri Ram Sagar project, built by Andhra Pradesh.
Seventy one (71) kilometres of the 126 km long water storage area of the Shri Ram Sagar Project is in Andhra Pradesh, while 55 kms is in Maharastra. The issue has been raised that because of this, the Babhli Barrage intrudes into the water storage area of the Shri Ram Sagar Project. Such disputes need to be amicably settled, not viciously fought over by stoning buses and damaging public property or getting film stars to take sides. When it comes to natural resources, they are not the exclusive property of Punjabis or Bengalis, Gujarathis or Rajasthanis, Kannadigas or Tamilians. Only the other day (March 27), Gujarat'sChief Minister, Narendra Modi symbolically sent the Narmada waters surging through a specially constructed main canal, to quench the thirst of desert-lined Rajasthan, after an epic 458 km long journey through ten districts of Gujarat. ?We are doing no favour to our neighbours, just repaying a centuries-old debt? said Modi, emotionally, while addressing lakhs of people who had assembled at Banaskantha. That is real patriotism. Those who have been indulging in violence both in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are insulting Bharat Mata. They need to be pulled up sharply. There are no Kannada or Tamil waters. Or Maharashtrian and Andhra Pradesh waters. All that we have are a Kaveri and a Godavari, just as we have a Narmada or a Ganga. What is true of rivers, is also true of human beings. We are Indians first; language should not separate us, or geography. It is only when there is free movement of people across one part of the country to another, that we establish our true Indian-ness or Bharatiyata. Mumbai City, for instance, was not built to its pre-eminence solely by the Marathi manoos. It was the sum-total of efforts made by Parsi entrepreneurs, Gujarati businessmen, Konkan mill workers, Marathi intellectuals, north Indian film stage and Karnatak hoteliers, to mention only a few, to whom credit is due. The Civil Service is all-Indian. Only talent counts.
The Army is one; so are the Navy and Air Force. They are not divided linguistically. It is time our petty politicians remembered that. Strong objection should be taken about Karnatak and Tamil film stars behaving in a most craven manner. Children behave more responsibly. It is this kind of in-fighting between one kingdom and another in the 18th century that finally enabled the British to conquer India. All inter-state disputes should be settled amicably, not by mud-slinging and in-fighting, but through mutual understanding and accommodation. Lord Clive must be laughing in his grave at the antics of our so-called ?leaders?. They have only brought shame and disgrace to this country we love. What our national ?leaders? are doing. Sitting pretty in Delhi, while south India is burning makes one wonder what, sort of leaders we have. India's polity is ?rotten? writes The Economist (March 22). No truer words were said.