The right to dissent


“Enil maipuram ondrudayal

Ival eppumozhi padhinetudayal
Enil Sindhanvi ondrudayal”

This Bharatmata has 30 crore faces
But her body is one
She speaks 18 languages
But her thought is one
—Subramania Bharati, Tamil poet

“Bhedaadganaa vinashyanti bhinnah supajapah parai
Tasmaat sanghata yogeshu prayateranganaah sadaa”

Republics have been destroyed
Because of internal divisions among the people
Hence a republic should always strive to achieve
Unity and good relations between the people
—Mahabharat, Shantiparva, Chapter 108; Shloka 14

“Teshaam anyonya bhinnanaam svashaktim ushthtaam
Nigrahah panditaih kaaryah kshipramev pradhaanatah”

Therefore the wise authorities should crush the separatist forces
Trying to assert their strength
—Mahabharat, Shantiparva, 108; Shloka 26

POLITICAL leaders, film stars, cricketers, etc are all falling over one another in paying tribute to the late Bal Thackeray. Amidst this plethora of accolades and plaudits pouring in from the high and the mighty I humbly wish to register my vote of dissent.

I know of the maxim ‘De mortuis nil nisi bonum‘ (of the dead speak only good), but I regret I cannot, since I regard the interest of my country above observance of civil proprieties.

What is Bal Thackeray’s legacy? It is the anti-national son of the soil (Bhumiputra) theory.

Article 1(1) of the Indian Constitution states: “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States”. Thus, India is not a confederation but a union.

Article 19 (1)(e) states: “All citizens shall have the right — to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India”. Thus, it is a fundamental right of a Gujrati, South Indian, Bihari, UP-ite, or person from any other part of India to migrate to Maharashtra and settle down there, just as it is of Maharashtrians to settle down in any part of India (though there are some restrictions in J&K, and some North Eastern states, due to historical reasons).

The bhumiputra theory states that Maharashtra essentially belongs to Marathi people, while Gujratis, South Indians, North Indians, etc are outsiders. This is in the teeth of Articles 1(1) and 19(1)(e) of the Constitution. India is one nation, and hence non-Maharashtrians cannot be treated as outsiders in Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena created by Thackeray attacked South Indians in the 1960s and 70s, and vandalised their restaurants and homes. In 2008, Biharis and UP-ites living in Mumbai etc (the bhaiyyas who are eking out a livelihood as milk and newspaper vendors, taxi drivers, etc) were described as infiltrators and attacked, their taxis smashed, and several beaten up. Muslims were also vilified.

This, of course, created a vote bank for Thackeray based on hatred (as had Hitler, of whom Thackeray was an admirer), and how does it matter if the country breaks up and is Balkanised? Apart from the objection to the son of the soil theory for being anti-national and unconstitutional, there is an even more basic objection, which may rebound on Thackeray’s own people.

I have shown in my article ‘What is India?’ that India is broadly a country of immigrants, (like North America) and 92-93% people living in India today are not the original inhabitants but descendants of immigrants, who came mainly from the North West seeking a comfortable life in this sub-continent (read my article on and the video on The original inhabitants (the real bhumiputras) of India are the pre-Dravidian tribals, known as adivasis, (the Bhils, Gonds, Santhals, Todas, etc) who are only 7-8% of our population today.

Hence, if the bhumiputra theory is seriously implemented, 92-93% of Maharashtrians (including perhaps the Thackeray family) may have to be regarded as outsiders and treated accordingly. The only real bhumiputras in Maharashtra are the Bhils and other tribals, who form only 7-8% of the population of Maharashtra.

Several separatist and fissiparous forces are working in India today (including the bhumiputra theory), which tend to break up the country. All patriotic people must combat these forces.

Why must we remain united? We must remain united because it is only a massive modern industry which can generate the huge wealth we require for the welfare of our people, agriculture alone cannot do this, and modern industry requires a huge market. It is only united India which can provide the huge market for the modern industry we must create to abolish poverty, unemployment and other social evils, and to provide for the huge healthcare and modern education system we must set up if we wish to come into the front ranks of the most advanced countries today and give our people decent lives.

Hence I regret I cannot pay any tribute to Mr. Bal Thackeray

Justice Markandey Katju is Chairman, Press Council of India. The above article has also appeared in The Hindu.


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