As 2017 draws to a grim end, both my nation and I have lost more than what we had ever precedented. While my nation lost its countrymen to cow vigilantism, communal hatred, debt ridden poverty, poor healthcare, floods, and hunger, I lost faith of those, whose faith is not same as mine. My losses don’t end there. When I refused to side with the miscreants, I lost the faith of those too, whose faith was same as mine.
There is little to disprove that India is a melting pot of diverse culture and beliefs, which have coexisted and thrived on the back of impregnable levels of acceptance. However, the status quo was challenged repeatedly, with jibes, comments and actions from poster boys, that have stoked emotions which eventually had incendiary consequences.
It is usual for us to watch politicians unleash the spectre of religion, and allow it to overshadow all pertinent matters. All of them without exception, possess incredible hunger for power, and essay every possible promise or tactic to lure the voter to their side.
Unfortunately, in 2017, this trend caught up with the masses. I have never felt so torn between loyalty and righteousness. When Pehlu Khan was lynched in Alwar and I expressed my anguish, I was immediately dubbed as a Hindu who did not care enough about cows. Obviously, my stand on no crime justified lynching – fell on deaf ears. When I displayed similar emotional response to brutal killing of a young RSS worker in Kerala, I was framed for being a right-wing extremist.
When I criticise the ruling dispensation, am classified as a ‘Congressi’, and when I support them am called a ‘bhakt’. Why do I have to be a subservient slave of a camp, to chide the other one? I have a scientific temper, and I will question the merit of every action that defeats my comprehension.
Can I not denounce actions of those who share my ideology, or is blind-faith the new normal?
To set the record straight, historically, Indians don’t ‘tolerate’; they either embrace you, or successfully vanquish you. India has a penchant for ousting, than tolerating. Be it the tyrannical British Raj, corrupt Governments, inept leaders, compromised sportsmen or trite actors – I think that if Indians don’t embrace it, they reject it. So, this entire squabble about being tolerant to faiths is fundamentally incorrect. Indians have disposed to their multiform nation and embraced its assorted texture, than borne with the heterogeneity on account of lack of options otherwise.
The nation has been forced to tolerate this debate on tolerance, for it serves those who have ossified themselves into impermeable layers of intolerance, prejudice and adamant extremism.
Can I not embrace multiple faiths, or is singularity of faith the new normal?
I remember watching the melodramatic “My Name is Khan”, and the cinema hall was engulfed by a deafening silence, when the very charming protagonist says, “My name is Khan, and I am not a terrorist.” The character of Rizwan Khan had forced the audience to rethink, rebuke and repudiate their biases. Today, I stand on a familiar turf – I am a Hindu, and I don’t hate others.
In a casual conversation, in September, 2017, I asked my Muslim friend, if he would bring kebabs from Lucknow to Delhi. He said, “I have stopped carrying non-vegetarian food with me.” Fear was palpable, and I couldn’t allay it. Rampant murders of citizens on pretext of abstract suspicion and allegations have eroded the faith we enjoyed of our fellow citizens. I have to repeatedly prove to my minority friends that I don’t support human carnage; to my community that I am not a traitor. Dipping levels of mutual trust soaring suspicion have inundated my nation. Heated arguments on social media reflect the anger and despair, we are suffering from. We are aware that the endemic of apprehension and disquiet is quietly consuming our very existence. Sadly, we are conceding, for it satisfies our self-hood and false supremacy of singularity. The test of faith is a failing one, for we have deep seated suspicion that is overriding our pragmatism.
I honestly don’t know what the Ayodhya verdict will be. What I do know is, if I cheer for the mandir, I will annoy my own, if I cheer for the masjid, I will still annoy my own. I am fighting a losing battle, with two resolute armies of my own on both sides. I wonder, what Krishna would tell me in this war.
Can I not stand for my own, or is faith the fulcrum of my relationships?