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Multi-tasking Uttar Bharatiya

North Indians in Mumbai ranging from MP, UP or Rajasthan are collectively called Uttar Bharatiyas, reports Mini Pant Zachariah.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2007, 02:58 IST
Mini Pant Zachariah
Mini Pant Zachariah

This is curious. The tag 'North Indians' in Mumbai could include people from Sendhwa in Madhya Pradesh, Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh or Jodhpur in Rajasthan. They are collectively called Uttar Bharatiyas. It seems as though those from the north of the Vindhyas are known as north Indians. (Yet, Punjabis and Kashmiris are excluded while Uttaranchalis, Jharkhandis and Chhatisgarhis are seen as part of the North Indian fraternity.)

They came to be known as bhaiyas, a name derived from the jobs they did when they first arrived. They delivered milk; sold vegetables and fruits; ironed clothes; and drove cabs.

Now they excel in fields like medicine, education, engineering, IT and finance. They are a force to reckon with. Thakur village, set up in Kandivli by builder VK Singh, who hails from Azamgarh, is a city in itself. Dr Rajendra Singh and Dr Radheshyam Tiwari are among the doctors who have set up medical institutions in Mumbai.

Then there is showbiz. There are actors Shatrughan Sinha, Manoj Bajpai and Nirmal Pandey; and poets Firaq Gorakhpuri, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Naushaad and Javed Akhtar — people without whom it is hard to imagine the Hindi film industry.

No political party can ignore them. Sanjay Nirupam, Shiv Sena MP-turned-Congressman, thinks that the "lifeline of Mumbai is with the North Indians". Shiv Sena shed its xenophobia at Nirupam's behest to start an Uttar Bharatiya cell. "For the second generation of settlers, Mumbai is home," adds Nirupam.

For instance, the community now celebrates Ganesh Utsav — a big event in Maharashtra — with great gusto, setting up 600-odd tableaux in the city. NK Singh of Singh Security Service says, "We may have been born in the north, which is our janmabhoomi, but Mumbai is the place we live and work in. It is our karmabhoomi."

From Community, HT's collector's edition series, 2005

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