Today, a small gang of men are trying to define what the country is. According to them, India confines within a boundary of their hypothetical region with one language, one religion and one culture. But India is like an elephant, too vast for those with a narrow vision to comprehend. People get hold of a leg, or the tail, and feel they have whole of India in their hands.
India is a land of “Unity in diversity”. Argumentativeness of Indians may have encouraged the tolerance of heterodoxy. But lynching of minorities (now assassination of journalists), raise a question squarely front of all – Is India’s past, so marked by communal riots, transmuting itself in to an era of lynching? It’s a feeling like that sharks roam the streets, teeth out, one bite, and you are gone. We thought that wild animals exist only in forests. No, we are wrong. Here they roam around in your civilised spaces: one the one hand, mob of ultra-nationalists and xenophobes; on the other, culture vulture right before your eyes.
The hate is broad spectrum in its reach but in essence boils down the aversion to reason. In her song, strange fruits, Billie Holiday immortalised the crushing pain of racial violence in Southern America. Its haunting opening verses was:
“Southern trees bear a strange fruit, blood on the leaves blood at the root. Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze, strange fruit hanging from the poplar tree.”
We have to recognize that the freedom that Indian society enjoyed in beliefs and practice always needed defence and support. Violation had to be opposed to correct the follies and to prevent their resurgence.
Muhammad Iqbal described India as a “gulistan (sacred garden)” and Indians as the chirping birds in it, “hum bulbulay hain is ki (we are the nightingales)”. Imagine if half of the birds suddenly fall silent and sing no more, what kind of garden will it be?”