In conversation with P K Ravindranath, senior journalist, author and professor of journalism
ON THE FORMATION OF BOMBAY
"When every state in India was divided on the basis of language in 1956, Bombay and Gujarat were combined together and were known as Bombay Province. This exercise led to a movement for a unilingual Maharashtra state. A mass movement named the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement was then initiated and led by leaders like S A Dange, S M Joshi, N G Gore, Prahlad Keshav Atre and others.
In January 1956, demonstrators fighting for the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement were fired upon by the police at Flora Fountain. It is estimated that 105 people were shot by security forces. Morarji Desai, the then Chief Minister of Bombay, was asked to resign over this incident and he was replaced by Y B Chavan. Flora Fountain was subsequently renamed Hutatma Chowk or Martyr's Square in their memory. The Samyukta Maharashtra Movement achieved its goal on May 1, 1960 when the State of Bombay was partitioned. Thus, even today, this day is rightly known as Maharashtra Day.
ON FIVE PERSONALITIES THAT SHAPED MAHARASHTRA
Swaminath Sadanand was a keen student of public affairs and entered journalism in 1917. He is the founder of the Free Press Journal. Swaminath's Free Press played an important role during our freedom movement. He was believed to be a man of steel and had no fear when it came to writing about or spreading awareness on the freedom struggle. His motivation and support has led to the creation of some of the best journalists in our country.
Shripat Amrit Dange was a founding member of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and a fiery trade union leader. He played an important role in the formation of the state of Maharashtra. He brought the working class together to fight during the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement. His inspiration, philosophy and support have shaped Bombay.
Yashwantrao Balwantrao Chavan was the first Chief Minister of Maharashtra after the division of Bombay Province. He was popularly known as the Leader of Common People because of his contributions at the grass-roots in our state. He was a person of strong vision and was responsible for the economic, social and cultural development of Maharashtra. He laid emphasis on an agro-industrial society, good infrastructure and the overall economic development of the state.
Dhirubhai Ambani was a great visionary who sensed a good opportunity in the textile business. He popularised the use of polyester fibre yarn and started his first textile mill at Naroda in Ahmedabad in the year 1977. The brand name Vimal was the trademark of his textile productions. He was the only one to realise a great potential in the Indian market. Today, the Ambani empire stands proof of his innovative contributions to the business world.
Rajni Patel was one of the finest barristers during that time. Apart from his successful court cases, he was also responsible for the national memorial built in memory of Jawarharlal Nehru. Today it is better known as the Nehru Centre. After his death, he was considered as a hero by the citizens of Mumbai and had admirers from all over the country.
as spoken to Shreyashi DasGupta