ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Such a Sharp Decline

By caving into the Shiv Sena's outrageous demand, Mumbai University continues its long decline.

The Shiv Sena’s propensity to violently agitate over issues totally unconnected with the immediate problems confronting the residents of Mumbai, including the Marathi manoos it claims to champion, is well-known. Its long history of issuing threats and unleashing physical violence against poor migrants, against those whom it tars as “anti-Indian” and against all those who do not conform to the Marathi asmita (identity) is also known. So too the fact that in almost all cases the state government’s reaction has helped to project it as a party that must not be displeased. The Mumbai University’s craven response to the party’s demand to withdraw Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey from the second year BA syllabus and the state government’s lame reaction are in keeping with the past practices of the Shiv Sena and the weak-kneed response of the government of the day.

The entire episode holds up a mirror to the gradual deterioration in the academic standards of the 153-year old Mumbai University. Mistry’s book, the recipient of many prestigious awards and with an enviable literary reputation, is set against the backdrop of the 1971 Indo-Pak war. The Parsi protagonist’s personal “long journey” plays out against socio-political events in the Bombay of those times and the Nagarwala bank scandal.

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