Maharashtra has always played a leading role in the social movements in
. This is the land where Sant Dnanyneshwar denied the monopoly of Sanskrit language over knowledge and wrote a commentary on Bhagwad Gita in Marathi, the language of the masses. This is the land where Sant Tukaram (circa 1608-1650) fought with all his strength against the hegemony of old Brahminical culture, wrote about 8000 lyrical abhangas (short poems), was executed for it as being a Shudra he had no right to read or write as per the varna system of Hinduism, and was allegedly killed for his revolt against the old decayed (but still strong) social order where no one but the priest class was lord of all socioeconomic privileges. This is the land where the great Shivaji, nearly contemporary of Sant Tukaram, became the first crowned King in India Maharashtra who ruled for well-being of the masses. This is the land where Mahatma Phule (1827-1890) and his wife Savitribai Phule started a real social revolution of the masses, started girl education in India by opening the first girl school at Pune, and challenged the hegemony supremacy of Hindu law which kept a large section of people away from all kind of knowledge for ages. And finally, this is the land where Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (1891-1956) hit a final blow on the varna system by converting to Buddhism with almost half a million of his followers in this very city from which I am typing this post making Buddhism again a living religion in its motherland after being uprooted for about a thousand years. This is the land of revolution, counter-revolutions, and again revolutions.
But writing this post today, I do not intend to unfold the social culture of
Maharashtra, but I wish to congratulate the Government of Maharashtra for officially declaring its cultural policy on in this Golden Jubilee year of the state. The Maharashtra State Cultural Policy, 2010 was declared on this May Day. This is the document that proposes the future steps in which the states should march to keep its rich heritage alive. Dr. A. H. Salunkhe, one of the greatest Sanskrit scholar and social reformer in the state, had handed over the draft of this policy to the government earlier in January. This draft was published on the website of the Government of Maharashtra for open discussion and opinions were requested from the people of the state. After four months of public discussion in press, the policy was finally declared on May 1, 2010.
The separate cultural policy for some state must not be considered as regionalism as some of the newspapers held. The very first fundamental principle on which the draft stands states, "This policy is drafted in a way so as to fulfill the fundamental objectives of the Constitution of India." Some important aspects of this policy would give a broad view to our readers about this policy:
1. A fund of 4% from the budget of the state will be reserved for cultural issues.
2. Arrangement of State Cultural Fund for future plans.
3. Bhasha Bhavan (Language Home) for development of Marathi language.
4. Formation of Language Advisory Board.
5. Developing the branch of Maharashtra Studies just like Orientology and Indology.
6. Establishment of South Asia Research Institute.
7. Standardization of written language.
8. A separate academy for study of different dialects of Marathi language.
9. Creating amphitheaters at tehsil levels and about 500-seater theaters at district level for development of stage.
10. Encouraging classical music.
11. Establishing study centers in foreign countries e.g. Dr. Ambedkar Study Center in
Columbia University, USA and Maharshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde Study Center at . Oxford University, UK
These are only a few aspects of the policy. Only an overview to these points is sufficient to prove comprehensiveness of the policy. The complete policy is available on the website of Government of
Maharashtra (www.maharashtra.gov.in). This is the work the government must be congratulated for.