Bombay example in deciding on the status of Hyderabad

Bombay example in deciding on the status of Hyderabad

That Bombay is an emporium for the whole of India may be admitted. But it is difficult to understand how it can be said that because of this,...

The City of Hyderabad seems to have emerged as the bone of contention between Seemandhra and Telangana leaders once the decision to bifurcate the State was announced by the Congress Working Committee and the UPA alliance. Similar situation had arisen when Gujarathis claimed Bombay. Dr BR Ambedkar presented his views on the question of retaining Bombay in Maharashtra during the formation of Gujarat to the Linguistic Provinces Commission in 1948. Following are excerpts from the statement which may benefit the current debate. They are both thoughtful and insightful

That Bombay is an emporium for the whole of India may be admitted. But it is difficult to understand how it can be said that because of this, Maharashtra cannot claim Bombay. Every port serves a much larger area than the country to which it belongs. No one, on that account, can say the country in which the port is situated cannot claim it as a part of its territory. Switzerland has no port. It uses either German, Italian or French Ports.

Can the Swiss therefore deny the right of Germany, Italy or France, the territorial rights of their ports? Why then should Maharashtrians be denied the right to claim Bombay merely because it serves as a port for Provinces other than Maharashtra ? It would be different if the Province of Maharashtra were to get a right to close the Port to non-Maharashtrians. Under the Constitution, it will not have that right. Consequently, the inclusion of Bombay in Maharashtra will not affect the right of non-Maharashtrians to use the port as before.

It may be granted that the Gujarathis have a monopoly of trade. But, as has already been pointed out, this monopoly, they have been able to establish because of the profits they were able to make which were the result of the privileges given to them by the East India Company on their settlement in Bombay. Who built up the trade and industry of Bombay is a matter for which no very great research is necessary. There is no foundation in fact for the statement that the trade and industry of Bombay was built up by Gujarathis. It was built up by Europeans and not by Gujarathis. Those who assert that it is the Gujarathis who did it should consult the Times of India Directory before making such a claim. The Gujarathis have been just merchants which is quite a different thing from being industrialists.

Once it is established that Bombay belonged to Maharashtra the claim of Maharashtra to include Bombay cannot be defeated by the argument that the trade and industry of Bombay is owned by the Gujarathis. The claim of mortgagor to his land cannot be defeated by the mortgagee on the ground that the mortgagee has built up permanent structures on the land. The Gujarathis assuming they have built up the trade and industry of Bombay are in no better position than a mortgagee is. But who have built up the trade and industry of Bombay seems to me quite irrelevant to the decision of the issue whether Bombay should or should not be included in Maharashtra.

This argument based on monopoly of trade and industry is really a political argument. It means that the owners may rule the workers but the workers must not be allowed to rule the owners. Those who use this argument do not seem to know what they are up against. The one thing they are up against is whether this argument is to be confined only to the City of Bombay or whether it is to have a general application.

There is no reason why it should not have a general application. For just as in Bombay City society is divided into owners and workers or into capitalists and wage-earners, such also is the case of society in Gujarat or for the matter of that in every province of India. If the owners and capitalists of Bombay are to be protected by the exclusion of Bombay from Maharashtra because Maharashtrians belong to the working classes, what is the method they suggest for protecting the capitalists of Gujarat from the working classes of Gujarat? Those Gujarathi Professors like Vakils and Dantwalas who are searching their brains to supply arguments to the Gujarathi capitalists of Bombay have not thought of finding ways and means for protecting the Gujarathi capitalists of Gujarat against the working classes of Gujarat. The only remedy they can suggest is the abandonment of adult suffrage. That is the only way by which they can protect the capitalists if they are out to protect capitalists in general and not the Gujarathi capitalists of Bombay in particular.

There is however one argument which the professors could urge. It is that the Maharashtrians being in a majority would discriminate against the Gujarathi capitalists of Bombay if Bombay was included in Maharashtra.

One could appreciate such an argument. But those who like to use this argument must remember two things :

(i) That Maharashtra is not the only place in which such a situation can arise. It may arise in any province. I like to refer to Bihar. In Bihar the land in which coal is found belongs to the people of Bihar. But the coal-owners are Gujarathis, Kathiawaris or Europeans.

Is there no possibility of Biharis making a discrimination against Gujarathi and Kathiawari coal-owners ? Are the coalfields of Bihar to be excluded from the Province of Bihar and constituted into a separate Province in the interest of Kathiawari and Gujarathi coal-owners ?

(ii) The Constitution of India has noted the possibility of discrimination being made against a minority and has made more than ample provision for preventing it. There are the fundamental rights. There are the provisions against discrimination; there are the provisions of payment of compensation, and there are the High Courts with the inherent rights to issue high prerogative writs both against individuals and Governments to stop any harm, injustice or harassment being done to any citizen. What more protection do the Gujarathi traders and industrialists of Bombay want against the possibility of discrimination?

Courtesy: The New
Indian Express
(To be concluded)

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