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Opinion: Are We Inching Towards ‘Nativist’ Politics Under The Guise Of ‘Nationalism’?

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The aims and ambitions behind writing this article are either still not so clear in my mind, or I am hesitating to write on it, because the topic which I am writing on is very explosive. The only evidence for this relies on the fact that I can be attacked or beaten in public by locals, even if I think about it. The first argument or accusation I have to face is that I am complaining about the land and its people, who have been feeding me and my family for more than 27 years. But the truth exists only to be exposed.

Mentioned above is a scenario which I can assume, is not by people who really want good for the state, and want to see it flourish along with the development of people from all the sections of society. Rather, it is by people who just want a single unnecessary illogical argument so as to create an issue on the so-called word ‘outsider’. Let me take you somewhat closer to the issue on which I am writing. It is on existing ‘provincialism’ or we can say ‘nativist politics‘ in disguise of ‘nationalism’. I am not an economist or strategist, but being aware of our surroundings, I can feel that everything is not good from the government’s side.

The Incident That Got Me Thinking

Right now I am employed as a technical trainer in a skill development academy which is in contract with a reputed automobile manufacturing plant in Gujarat. Here, my team and I deal with various candidates who come here to enroll themselves in a scheme started by the government which provides a platform for people who want to develop some skills in order to empower themselves for self-employment. Candidates, after getting enrolled, are called as ‘trainees’. They come from different states, and the farthest candidate we met was from Meghalaya. They are trained here for a year or two and reside locally for the time being.

The problem I am talking about does not occur frequently, but whenever it happens, it takes an ugly turn each time. Almost always, the issue was raised by locals over petty issues, and the mindset that is present is, “How can an outsider talk to me like that?” Here, I would like to mention that this is not as per a belief that each time, the mistake was of the locals only. Even if it was a mistake committed by an ‘outsider’, one cannot just go and beat them up. If anyone really has some problems with someone who has recently shifted there, the police are always there to help. The important thing is, even the law has not given anyone such authority to just beat anyone up, simply because they are from a different place. When you cannot do that even with a foreigner, then how can you do this to an Indian citizen” A difference can be clearly seen between a simple quarrel over a petty issue and the rage of ‘discrimination’, or I can say jealousy of that person from outside the state. I hope the incidents of public thrashing of northeastern residents in places like Delhi and Mumbai were not unknown to you.

Let me remind you of a recent incident which compelled the feeling of regionalism and gave nativist politics a chance to spread its fangs into the ‘social fabric’ of Gujarat. The case is related to the rape of a 14-month-old girl by a native of Bihar after which public anger erupted against labourers from UP and Bihar. Due to violent incidents across western Gujarat against the migrants of UP and Bihar, people started fleeing from the state. Before describing my conclusion about this incident, I want to tell you the truth about societies in Gujarat. The following conclusion is not based on the locality in which I live, but it is based on the bonding between people where my friends live. Societies in Gujarat are the most cooperative, internally. Yes, it is true, similar to other communities, that they give preference to their own community, but they also help people from different communities with the same love, affection, and enthusiasm. The root cause of the problem, I feel, is those people’s mentality, who are brainwashed by some leaders, who think that people who are not native to Gujarat are ‘outsiders’ and they are eating up ‘our’ jobs and opportunities.

I feel it is definitely not wrong to say that Gujarat is a business-oriented state. People here think of expanding themselves and their outreach is more for that in society, more than indulging themselves in unnecessary topics. I strongly feel that the rape case was just an excuse for fringe elements to start an issue, and probably got some pay from their notorious political masters. A criminal somewhere is a criminal everywhere, or I should say, that the wrongdoing of a single person belonging to a certain community does not make the whole community culpable. It may happen that this community itself is fighting the same issue.

After the rape incident, yes, anger was in the minds of people, but it was not that anger which we saw on the streets of some parts of Gujarat. The violence, which happened in the backdrop of the crime against the innocent migrant workers from Bihar and UP and some from MP, who worked in the nearby factories, was just a trial by fringe elements to take political advantage of the crime, and nothing else. As far as people are concerned, they only want the culprit of such a heinous crime to be hanged as soon as possible, and I can undoubtedly say that the same feeling was there in the hearts of the people from the culprit’s community too. Seeing violence against innocent people, the question that arises here is, aren’t people from the culprit’s community also humans? What if the same crime happened with their child, and it was done by a local Gujarati? Then, in such a circumstance, would we have blamed the same migrant community just because they happened to be there when it happened?

A criminal does not have any community or religion or state. A criminal is a criminal, whether they belong to UP or Bihar, and reside in Gujarat, or whether they belong to Gujarat and reside in UP or Bihar. The people who carried out violence should be asked a simple question: where were they when any rape incidents happened in Gujarat by locals previously? Was there any incident where people from a certain community were beaten up, just because one of them committed a heinous crime? Is there really a difference between the culprits of such a heinous crime, and so a question needs to be asked about where they belong? Is a rapist any less of a culprit if they come from a certain state? Of course not. Again, I would like to say that a culprit is a culprit, and nothing else, whether he is from Gujarat, UP, MP or Bihar.

Who Is An ‘Outsider’?

Now, why do outsiders come here? This is a somewhat common question shared by people who also think ‘what can we do if the state is not generating employment?’ Why they are taking our jobs? Why they are using our resources? I would say it is natural because we are being made to think like that by regional political parties and similar entities, who do not have any political base other than a specific region. To mislead people, to create tension, to raise an issue of zero importance, to put a crowd in unnecessary aggression and convert it into a mob, these are their doings, and they know nothing other than this. I think such problems are aggravated due to one more reason, and that is educated public coming in the trap laid by such people. ‘Hazaar baar jhoot bolne se vo sach nahin ban jaata’ (a lie told a thousand times doesn’t become the truth) is a famous line in TV serials and films many times, but this is unfortunately true for the real world, and especially the world of politics.

Actually, there is nothing like an ‘insider’ or ‘outsider’. Constitutionally speaking, Article 15 ensures that no one can discriminate on the basis of caste or place of birth. The Constitution, the law, and other such ‘national entities’ want us to live with cooperation and brotherhood in society everywhere. As far as coming to a different state and working and living is concerned, it is in both, the fundamental rights and freedom of individuals, to move to any corner of the country to work or to live. Now, you will say that this will harm the local people, but I ask how? Is an increasing population a problem in your local area only? Is the uneven distribution of resources a problem only in your local area? Is shrinking living space in a state of 6 crore people a problem just because of thousands of migrating citizens? Why can’t locals understand that people from different states are not ‘foreigners’ but they are the citizen of India, just as they themselves are? ‘Outsider’ is a word which we do not even use for the Britishers, who looted India when they visit us today. If we can address them with respect, how can we, shamefully, call our own people ‘outsiders’?

“Unity Makes Strength”

Now, giving priority to the requirements of the locals, what do they want? They want peace, right? They want their business to flourish more, isn’t it? They want their country to be strengthened internally, isn’t it? Now, peace will come from law and order, and the police are there for everyone. Businesses will flourish with more customers. “Unity makes Strength” is a quote which our children learn in the 5th or 6th standard, so why can’t we understand it now also?

Communal, regional and local tensions don’t exist automatically but are produced by quarreling over petty issues, and just not understanding that there is someone else present who can take advantage of our fight, and that the third one is the real enemy of the state. The philosophy behind this is very simple, that Gujarat is not only for Gujaratis, instead, but it is also for Indians who live in this country. Similarly, Maharashtra is not only for Marathis, but it is also for Indians. If we will remain united, India will exist, if not, then we will become India’s worst enemy.

Whether I belong to UP or MP is a secondary thing. The most important is that it in my birthplace, if I or any other person from any state is living and earning there, then surely we will be providing some revenue to the state. I can’t stand to see any scoundrel sowing seeds of enmity among different communities living happily under India’s social fabric. I love my community, I love my society, I love my state, and because I love my country, I’m even ready to die for it while solving any doubts like this. If communities, societies, and states will remain united, then, and only then, can our country move forward, and eliminate all those things which drag our nation towards the darkness of violence and war. This is a duty of the utmost importance for all of us. So, here I conclude this article, and will proudly say “yes it (India) is mine!

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