Rohit Sakunia takes upon a Tehelka article which with poor subtlety bashes a community. Here’s a rebut bit by bit.
Let me in the beginning itself tell the viewers that this article was written in 2010. I am sure the author must have by now gained for some sane hood and would not be having the same opinions. Nonetheless the rebuttal was necessary.
So she starts the article by pointing to the fact that she is a Marwari and knows the community. I beg to differ. She says three words define the world of a Marwari man: Taboo, Society and Marriage. Did she just forget sophistication, business acumen, economic sense, modernity? The she writes the Marwari’s as “India’s most repressed community”. Really? Has she even been to 50 Marwari families before writing this line? Research is one weapon that every journalist should possess in her armoury, unfortunately not in case of this author.
She continues to write unnecessarily that “pleasure is the tribe’s best kept secret — for generations, ‘good values’ have elevated them above base desire. Except when no one is at home — the remote is duly programmed to the cleavage show on Fashion TV”. Little does she know that this is the characteristic of all tribe? All kids grow up watching FTV without their parents consent. I would like to know whether our dear author saw it with her parents, especially the midnight show.
Then she comes down to haunting the ladies of the community writing that “She can now indulge in a career (mostly a hobby or a fashion designing boutique run from home) as long as she’s present when the men return, tired from a day of gold-digging”. Let me rebut this very clearly. I work in one of the world’s biggest companies and 3 out of 5 in my team are married and Marwari women. My wife is a Marwari and is a financial researcher in a leading company. My sister is a Marwari, married to a Marwari and is a doctor. If you thought I belong to an outlier family, check the story of 50% of the educated Marwari families and you will know for better.
The author then comes down further saying “Any display of dazzling cleavage, however, is strictly taboo”. Can it get more ridiculous than this? Do women have to show cleavage to show modernity these days? I am sure even western would not accept this as a standard for being modern. Goes on to show what all writers can do to sell copies.
She does not stop here and comes to the men. She writes “The diktat for men is more production oriented — “Get married, have a business with 1,000 slaves under you and procreate, procreate, procreate, until you have a male child.” I know of a Marwari businessmen from the dotcom domain. I won’t take his name but would say that he comes from a very traditional business family. He not only build a business around new media but the point that is more important in the context is that this gentlemen has two daughters and is pretty proud of them. The basic point is, let’s not get to the point of ridiculous.
Then she goes on to what is probably the most refutable point in the entire copy. She writes “Munna Babu, Munna Halwai, Munnaji, the Marwari man has remained the eternal infant, always Mummy’s Suitable Boy”. Now which child grows to be a man for her mother? My mom (and am on the wrong side of the 20’s) still catches hold of my ears when I make a mistake, still loves me as she used to when I was an infant, still gets angry and still gets tears if I get hurt and am sure women of all communities feel the same for their children, irrespective of their gender.
The author actually baffles me when she writes this “If political inner life is an essential ingredient of an intellectual man, the Marwari draws a blank. (Proximity to the office of the Finance Minister does not count.) At his core, the Marwari man is a staid, almost docile, apolitical creature. Independent thinking has never been a good value. Asking questions is taboo”. I would ask her to go do a research study on this. Yes, its 100% correct that a Marwari has great domain knowledge in his/her business area but he is equally politically aware. In fact the growing number of Marwari’s in the political circle is just an example.
Yes, I agree to the author’s point that the usual markers of identity are generally absent. The reason being a Marwari goes in and settles anywhere where he finds he can do a business in. He mixes with local group their very easily and adapts to his surrounding faster than any community. He tries to be one and same with majority wherever he goes and to me this is a great accomplishment in a country like India which divides itself on caste, language lines.
When the author talks of dowry, she forgets that the modern Marwari girl stands tall against any form of dowry and is pretty well aware of her rights.
She closes by saying that “In many ways, the new Marwari man is synthetic, almost plastic; you miss scruffy edges, raw soul, eccentric passion.” How blank a statement that is. The new Marwari man is not one but two step ahead of his predecessors. He feels a working, educated wife is much better than a housewife for reasons like support and advice. He has the world open to him through the internet and is looking for options way beyond traditional businesses.
Overall an article that clearly looks like written in haste and like a rant, without any due diligence. The author could have done better than just scribbling what came to mind. Marwari’s were never what she made them look like, not the least is a better expression. It would help if she does some talking to a few Marwari’s around.
PS: Just because you are a journalist and have not ended up making enough money, does not mean you bash any and every Marwari who knows what he is doing, is not confused and is still aware.
Yours Lovingly Marwari