The Hindu-Muslim divide has been widening in the last few years. With issues like temples and mosques, beef, negative impacts of festivals, and historical figures, all being used to muddy the religious waters, the Hindu-Muslim issue (and the Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and even caste-based issues around Dalits) is in the spotlight like never before. So why is there so much hate?
One simple reason… Politics.
After having travelled to other countries and lived outside India, I’ve seen how not just Hindus and Muslims, but even Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis bond closely due to our shared similarities. However, inside our countries, the hatred and fear is fostered slowly through careful, insidious communal politics.
The Hindu-Muslim conflict is a manufactured one, for the personal agendas of a few power-seeking individuals and parties. The British started it and independent India’s political parties gleefully continued riding this hateful roller-coaster. It has now become a barely controllable monster that triggers everything from workplace bias to lynchings. But like the capitalist countries deny climate change, we deny communal manipulation. Both denials will lead to disaster.
So let’s try putting that denial aside and consider some simple facts.
- All communal riots are either started or stoked by political parties and their goons. They are planned in great detail like wars and then escalated to the maximum benefit depending on the narrative being sold. Most political parties in power are guilty of this.
- Most advantages that are given to one community or the other (reservation, permissions for religious buildings) are very polarizing. It’s meant to divide communities and incite envy and hatred. Words are carefully chosen depending on where the speeches are being given. It’s carefully calculated manipulation.
- A lot of non-religious issues are made to be about religion, just to distract people away from the basic problem. The Kashmir issue is not just about religion, but it’s made to be so. People’s religion is called in to question their patriotism. Remember the Patrike-Patrick nonsense after Gauri Lankesh’s murder? The following outrage buries the main issues under irrational hatred.
- Religion-based issues are raked up around elections, to get people charged up and emotional. Because of this hysteria, people forget to evaluate actual progress and development and vote based on hate-mongering speeches. This is illegal, but it’s still the bedrock of Indian politics.
- The media narrative is shaped to religious polarization because it’s controversial and sells. Senior journalists switch political allegiances and even core ethical beliefs just to further their own agendas. All Indians read in papers and see on TV is wild accusations all day long, and they start believing that.
- The final nail in this communal coffin is social media. The ease of forwarding means that it’s really easy to create hateful nonsense with no basis in truth. Reports like ‘Hindu woman stoned to death by a Muslim mob’ and ‘Muslim youth burnt alive by Hindu mob’ are the biggest dangers. Social media has started acting as a flashpoint for communal mob violence.
While most of the links refer to recent events, it’s important to remember that all the big Indian political parties are guilty of this. The BJP, Congress, CPI(M) and even the big regional parties. So this is not a tirade against the current regime.
What’s worrying today is that the combined hate-mongering politics across the decades seems to have finally sunk into the very bones of our country, making us hate instinctively, without questioning or even thinking. This is what we teach our kids and our students. It’s terrifying and there is no simple solution to it. All we can do is take a deep breath and start thinking for ourselves.
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