Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Family spat sullying Marwari community image

The name Marwari was given in general to describe the people of Rajasthan, especially natives of Marwar region who migrated outside for trade and business. Later, all Rajasthanis were referred to as Marwaris, including the Rajasthani-speaking Muslims.
The term Marwari, which has a certain geographical connotation is supposedly derived from Sanskrit Maruwat or `maru’ meaning desert, is used as a label to refer to all Rajasthanis who are in trade and business.
Kolkata is said to be the second home or a home away from home where generations of Marwaris have lived and thrived. For other communities, Marwaris evoke mixed feelings that personify `entrepreneurship par excellence’, `business acumen’, `rags-to-riches legends’ to that of `wily businessmen’ out to leech others.
The Marwari community, often rightly, is accused of being clannish. I grew up on stories, imagined or real, of how the established Marwaris helped the newcomers of their community to set up a foothold in the City of Joy.
My biological family had a guddi jute business where people from my native district used to come and stay. Not till very recently, did I ever hear a story of two successful eminent and influential Marwari families trying to pull down each other in public.
A recent report in a leading Bengali daily brought into open the spat between the two families of the same community.  The friends-turned-foes affair took a nasty turn with allegations and counter allegations flying in thick and fast. A cocktail of intrigue, power play, manipulations, politics, police, forgery, SMS/CD scams, high drama and media attention surrounds it.
The spat has all the potential to spin out of control. Eminent Kolkatans have received objectionable SMSes and CDs that transcend the bounds of propriety. The close proximity of both the families to a political party has already split the party into different camps. Things have gone worse with the name of an opposition politician being dragged into the matter. Also, behind-the-scene attempts to drum up media support is likely to further vitiate the atmosphere.
When big families fight can politics and media be far behind. I wonder if this is some kind of a new way of sorting out things that the members of the Marwari community have started subscribing to. All this is sullying the image of the Marwari community in Kolkata.
I know both the families and don’t want to pass any judgement as to who is right or wrong. I, however, personally feel that the senior Marwari community members should use their goodwill and experience to stop the mud slinging in public and work out a rapprochement between the two families. The community’s reputation is at stake.
I have heard that in the past whenever there were any disputes between families, Marwaris were the last ones to go to the police or the court and always preferred to settle things through the mediation of a third person or organisation. There is much to learn from our older generations and senior members who laid the foundations of the community over the years in Kolkata.
Being united as a community has been the Marwaris’ greatest strength and the edifice on which all other achievements lie.
The reputation of the community outweighs any personal differences of its members and should thus be resolved at the earliest. Or else, we’ll end up being just a `Mar and War’ community. The choice is ours. Either we get over our differences or go the way the great Roman Empire did.
ess bee

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