I woke up today morning, went online and found one of the best things I have ever read. The author of this letter is yet unknown but whoever he is, hats off.
21st Feb 2010.
Dear Mr Shiv Sainik,
I trust you have read Rajdeep Sardesai’s open letter to Mr Uddhav Thakeray
doing the rounds on the internet. Frankly, for two reasons I won’t be
surprised if you haven’t. One, it is in English. And two, it is extremely
well-written and very thought–provoking. If you haven’t read it I suggest
you ask your children to translate it for you. Like the offspring of most
Shiv Sainiks I presume yours too are studying in the most elitist of convent
But first, let me introduce myself.
I am just a Stupid Common Man. Have you seen the film *‘A Wednesday’*? You
must, even though it is in Hindi. Nasiruddin Shah’s soliloquy at the end of
the film where he spits out his pent-up anger against the system and all
politicians will make your hair stand on end. He calls himself just a Stupid
Common Man. That’s what I am too, as are the faceless thousands and
thousands of us in this city. And like the Stupid Common Man, we are a very
angry lot today; angry at your silly and immature antics, and angry at the
city being held to ransom by your aging leader and his coterie of Yes Men.
I have tried to understand what your core values are, but I am stumped! Let
me spell out why.
Your agitation against Shah Rukh Khan, Rahul Gandhi, Mukesh Ambani and
Sachin Tendulkar turned out to be as riveting as a deflating balloon. Nobody
paid heed to your leader’s call, least of all we Bombay *manoos *who you
have turned into a kind of experimental guinea pigs in the political
laboratory. What kind of wishy-washy, spineless, sloppy fellows are you!
Sorry, Mr Shiv Sainik, the nation did not want an apology from SRK – far
from it. They just want good, edge-of-the-seat cricket. And the nation
showed what they think of your fading leader by making SRK’s film the
biggest grosser in Bollywood. What Rahul G gave you gentlemen was a
resounding slap-in-the-face by doing what your leader has never done – Rahul
mingled freely with the ordinary *manoos* in Bombay. Sachin endeared himself
to the whole country by proclaiming that he was an Indian first. As for
Mukesh Ambani, please await the next chapter.
Now let me tell you why we are an angry lot. Your creaky gramophone record
about Marathi pride being hurt has ceased to convince us any more. During
your current tenure at the BMC, 35 Marathi municipal schools were shut down.
Is this your idea of pride? Rahul Bose (I don’t think you gentlemen have
even heard of him) in a recent TV interview gave statistics to show that
Bombay has already lost out to Delhi in virtually every department of
administration. Forget Delhi, it is losing out to Ahmedabad and Hyderabad.
Is this your idea of pride?
And your flip-flop about allowing the Australians to play in Bombay has many
of us in splits. If you are against immigrants, surely you should be
supporting racism in Australia! And if you are protesting racism in Oz, does
it mean that you have had a change of heart about the North Indians? Is this
pride, or total Alzeimeric confusion? Yes, we are angry at your threats to
paralyse Bombay at the drop of a sparrow’s droppings. And, more important,
we are angry at your wanton destruction of public property. Your loss at
successive elections is enough proof of the adage *“You can fool some of the
people all the time, or all the people some of the time, but you cannot fool
all the people all of the time.”*
Now let me tell you why some countries are great and the others are not.
This will perhaps appeal to you, if you have progressed beyond high school.
You have probably heard of a country called USA – it is the most powerful
nation in the world today. It is so because of the way it allows the human
potential to flower and flourish. Leaders – in politics and in business – in
the US come from all parts of the world. If you ever were an avid newspaper
reader (real newspapers, not the Saamna variety) you will recall that there
was a man called Henry Kissinger. He was a German refugee from the
Holocaust, and he became Secretary of State. That Mrs Indira Gandhi gave him
a bloody nose during the ’71 war is another story. But let me give you an
example that you would probably relate to better. You surely have seen
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s films. He flexes his biceps and can put Salman K to
shame – iconic and breath-taking stuff for your stone-throwing, public
property-destroying foot-soldiers. He migrated from Austria about 40 years
ago determined to make it big in the US. Arnold is presently Governor of
California. And there are several Indians in Obama’s (he happens to be the
President of the US) administration, including a few Marathi *manoos* (No,
Please, Al Gore is NOT a Marathi *manoos*). And their contribution to
American society and economy is just enormous.
The point I am making is simply this: you can throw out the ‘outsiders’ only
at your economic peril. All along you have been talking only about job
reservations. Have you ever given a thought to job creation? Have you ever
wondered why very, very few Marathi *manoos *make it to the IFS, IAS, IRS
and the higher echelons of the armed forces? It’s now high time you gave a
thought to that, AND DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!
Now try to picture this. Bombay accounts for about 35% of the income tax
collections of the country. This you probably know. What you probably do not
know is that companies pay income tax in the city where their registered
offices are situated. Now just imagine – and please try to do so seriously
because we are not talking *kaanda bhajiya* but real big mega stuff – what
would happen if the big 3 suddenly decided to shift their registered offices
to Baroda, or Bangalore, or Delhi? Do you recall the downfall of Calcutta
when Charu Mazumdar and his naxalite thugs ran amok there? And the ruins of
Uganda when Big Boy Idi Amin threw out the Indians? In economic terms it’s
called flight of capital. The Tatas called Mamta didi’s bluff and shifted
the Nano project lock, stock and barrel to Gujarat. That left Bengal gasping
for breath. Mukesh Ambani is already talking of shifting his registered
office to Jamnagar . . . I leave the rest to your imagination.
And have you ever thought what would happen to Bombay if the film industry,
what Bombay is really synonymous with, decided to move to Noida?
Sorry for being harsh on you, dear Mr SS, but I am just a Stupid Common Man
letting off steam against your apathy, utter lack of vision and foresight,
and utter lack of concern for us.
Now let’s see what you gentlemen CAN do. You are controlling the BMC for the
moment. And I say for the moment because I see the Rahul G tsunami in the
distant horizon fast approaching Matoshree. SO IT’S TIME YOU DID SOMETHING
FOR BOMBAY! You have until 2012. Merely changing names of cities and roads
and monuments, and creating an identity crisis for everybody, will not help.
I’ve never heard you gentlemen talk of
· Urban planning
· eliminating corruption, especially in the BMC that you presently
· giving us good roads and footpaths,
· parks and gardens,
· upgraded municipal hospitals and schools,
· uninterrupted water and electricity.
All that I’ve heard is the tinkling of shattered glass panes of the IBN
Lokmat office, cinema theatres and of *bhaiyya*-owned taxis, and attacks on
And you gentlemen have woken up to the existence of Vidarbha only when they
started demanding a separate state. It just boils down to plain neglect; so
much for your oft-touted Marathi pride. This polemics has ensured your
survival, but it has not taken you very far. You are fast approaching a
dead-end. In fact, when the obituary of the Shiv Sena is written what will
be remembered will not be the flyovers you built, but:
· Bashing up south Indians
· Bashing up north Indians
· Digging up cricket pitches
· Damaging the only world cup trophy brought by Kapil’s Devils
· Enron-Dabhol scandal
· Michael Jackson fund-raiser and the funds that disappeared
· Miandad-Supremo camaraderie
· Flight of capital and business (Hope you read ET. There must be a
But there is hope for you yet. *Start talking economics* and you may just
survive the Rahul Gandhi tsunami. But above all, please read Rajdeep’s mail.
If you survive you will have Rajdeep Sardesai to thank.
Stupid Common Man