I deliberated a lot on whether I should write this piece or not. The first question which came to my mind was whether this piece would make any difference. But, alas! Truly being my father’s son, I must speak up when I see bullshit.
We are in the midst of a very interesting time with respect to our country. It appears that our country is torn; right in the middle. There are the leftists who want progress, in thought, in development and in desire. There is also, of course, the right-wing, though I am not really sure of what they want. I mean I understand what they want; I just don’t understand why. And finally, there are the neutral people or perhaps the ‘apolitical,’ if I may use the term loosely.
I am a leftist, that too unabashedly, I have no shame in it rather I am proud of it. However, it does not seem to be a popular political leaning given that the country is ruled by the right-wingers who are slowly coming out in the open. This is very similar to the case of the 2016 Indian elections and the election of Trump. Both were made possible by the closeted voters. The voters who did not come out and express their viewpoint until the time to cast the ballot was ripe. Admittedly this happened in a much more drastic manner when Trump won the presidency.
I’d like to put into perspective my understanding of the left and the right in today’s political environment. The left is critical of the government. The left would normally and especially when not in power, be anti-establishment. And that is how the left is expressed in India today.
The protests happening against the CAA/NRC are of course not a Congress-led movement, is it? The Congress has not been able to effectively organize one since years now and this is no hidden fact. The protests are being led by what is the left. The issue with the CAA/NRC, from the left perspective, without getting into the debate itself, is that of protection of the Muslim minority in the country. Given that the right stands stark opposite to that of the left, the right-wing ideology would be the exact opposite, though veiled under the guise of law.
At this point, of course, you the reader, would get an inkling of me being staunchly against the right. That is true in all fairness. I am staunchly against the right because our country has for years now, treated Muslims like second class citizens. Do note that this is not true of all Muslims. For example, Salman Khan would be an exception to this rule.
However, the point in question would be that of Muslims who do not have means and privilege. My biggest concern is what is happening to such a population? What is the country doing to help such Muslims?
Now, while the question of unprivileged Muslims is one, another important question, is what kind of an attitude do we as a country, have towards the Muslim population of the country? To answer this second question, one must look at the leaders of today.
The Prime Minister and the Home Minister as you very well know have worked closely together in the past. This is exactly what I am fearful of today. If the Gujarat 2002 example is anything to go by, then this cannot end well. You can deny it but we all know that the CM of Gujarat at the time did not do anything to curb the maddening situation which the state went through during the Godhra riots.
Muslims were murdered, looted and raped left right and centre. All of this was in retaliation to the alleged killing of Hindus by Muslim forces in the Sabarmati Express situation.
At the onset, I must state that I am against violence, mostly against state-organised violence. While there is no rationale or explanation or defence which the Muslims can hold for what happened on the Sabarmati Express, one must understand that what happened on the Sabarmati Express is an act of terrorism. It is not the viewpoint of the religious leaders of Islam. It was not an act of violence sanctioned by anyone who can call themselves a leader of Muslims.
Contrary to this, what was the reaction? A few days of madness in Gujarat. Now the question to be asked here is, where was the state machinery during this time? I will leave the example of Gujarat at this.
I would like to take up another incident which seems to be the basic divide between the right and the left today. Ayodhya. The word itself divides opinions. One need not even get into the facts. There are two aspects to the Ayodhya situation as well. One is what happened on that dreadful day and the other is what the apex court held when it finally delivered its verdict in what is perhaps India’s most controversial case to land in court.
I truly believe that what happened that dreadful day is pathetic. It is what happens when the majority has too much power and can get away with anything it does. It is common knowledge that the Hindus claim that the spot at which the Babri Masjid stood was the birthplace of Ram. This belief has passed on through generations.
In all fairness, that is a perfectly fine belief to hold. There are other religions which hold places sacred for similar reasons. However, what is also common knowledge is what happened on that dreadful day. You see it is perfectly fine to believe in history. But what happens when you try and change history with human actions?
Where the idols of Ram not placed inside the mosque by Hindu priests? Was the appearance of these idols not heralded as a miracle? It is at this point that history got changed. It is at this point that history got fabricated. The renewed claim over the Babri Masjid began with the appearance of these idols. It is on account of the appearance of these idols that the voices grew louder for the Hindu claim over the land. And what happened after? Complete and utter madness.
The Babri Masjid was, in public view demolished. Now, this act is what my main concern is with the right-wing. I can understand wanting something, I cannot however understand the need to take it forcefully, in violation of the law.
The demolition of the Babri Masjid is where Hindu dominance began. I mean for a minute, imagine if a group of Muslims got themselves to the dome of an important temple in India and proceeded to demolish it in public view. Not only would these folks not actually be able to finish the act of demolition, they would be shot down at the first opportunity and this is solely because the country has a Hindu majority and the question ultimately is that of religion. Was it just for the Hindus to take law into their own hands and demolish the Babri Masjid without a court order? Absolutely not.
If such an act is justified, how far away are we from being animals? In fact, what is even worse is, there were prominent faces such as LK Advani with close ties to the BJP who openly advocated for the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Tomorrow, if the Hindus decide that the plot of land next to my house is where Sita was born, then what stops them from going ahead and demolishing my house to achieve their religious ideology? And they would again get away with this since I belong to a minority as well.
Now, let us look at the judgement which was given by the apex court. In my view, the judgement is a sham. It is nothing but majority appeasement. How is the grant of land outside the actual compound of the masjid any compensation to the Muslims? The court has basically said that what happened on that dreadful day was sad, but let’s just close this chapter now.
What about the sins of the past? What about the blatant declaration that one’s religion matters more than the other? What about the fear harbouring amongst all Muslims now that they will always be second in preference to Hindus in terms of religion?
This brings me, rather conveniently to my next point. The call for a Hindu Rashtra. Mind you, this is not a public call or one formally endorsed by the government. However, the call for a Hindu Rashtra is what my biggest issue with the right-wing is. Normal people, just like you and I, are openly calling for Hindu Rashtra both online and offline and what is the basic premise for the call of a Hindu Rashtra?
As an ex-colleague of mine wrote on social media, “The land has been resilient to hordes of barbaric Turkish invasions and evangelical crusaders. We think we can withstand your stuffings too.” This is what I would say is the crux of the issue.
These barbaric Turkish you speak of, when did they enter the land? When did they rule? You are using examples of invasions which happened 500 years back. Invasions which are history. The invasion which we were taught in our history books. Let us take the example of the Mughals. Are you saying that you want a Hindu Rashtra today because India in its history was ruled by Mughals? Or because St. Thomas landed in Kerala and taught the people about Christ?
I’d say that is a spectacularly ridiculous argument. Should the native Americans declare war and say that America belongs to the natives and the philosophy of the natives? Should New Zealand be given back to the Maoris? Absolutely ridiculous. We cannot blame history for having occurred. Are you saying that because someone did something 500 years ago, you today would like to do the opposite to prove that the sins of the past must be resolved?
If you take my example from Ayodhya earlier, will you then stand in front of a temple and watch it demolished to the ground with your hands tied? History is something you cannot get rid of, history is what got you here in the first place. If the belief that Mughals were removed by the British and not any Hindu forces is taken to be true, are the Brits your God then?
Another problem I see is the reference to ‘we.’ It is almost as if the person in question spoke as a representative of the Hindu fraternity in the country. But this aspect of using the common point of reference is one I have seen in multiple discussions. I know for a fact that not everyone subscribes to this thought process. I have umpteen friends who identify as Hindus but could not have been more polar than asking for a Hindu Rashtra.
This then goes back to the example of the Babri Masjid again. Smash and grab, eh? You want to declare the country a Hindu Rashtra because a section of the population wants it. What about the rest? While India is 80% Hindu, does a religious majority given the right to turn against the spirit of the Constitution? The Constitution clearly declares India as a secular republic.
Does the fact that because Hindus constitute 80% of the populate and perhaps 40% of this population want a Hindu Rashtra do enough to in fact argue for a Hindu Rashtra?
What helps the seekers of a Hindu Rashtra is that the government is blowing the same trumpet which is being done cleverly. You, of course, will not find the PM or the HM openly asking for a Hindu Rashtra, but the fine print is what needs to be read. The fine print with respect to the Ayodhya judgment or the CAA/NRC debate.
Before the current government came into power, the demand for a Hindu Rashtra was only being made by the political party in question. Common people like you and I were not losing our heads seeking a Hindu Rashtra. But that is what you get when you project yourself as the political party of the majority religion. This is what you get when you label anyone dissenting as an anti-national and an enemy of the country.
While I am of the opinion that the current government does not have the interest of the country at its core, it seems to be a master of creating a mob mentality. A mentality that being Hindu gives you the privilege and a right to assert your opinion as the majority opinion and worse, apparently as the correct opinion. The government is feeding off of the religious frenzy it has created and I have no doubt that it will push towards and ultimately succeed in creating this Hindu Rashtra.
To my fellow dissenters, the only question then, is that if you disagree with the government and the concept of a Hindu Rashtra, will you do something about it? Will you take to the streets? Will you voice your protest till you die? Will you stand up against fascism? Will you play your part in making sure that we do not repeat the faults of the Germans?
But most importantly, will you be at the front, waiting to take a bullet against those hoping to divide the integrity and unity of the country? Will you show them what true patriotism is?
Long live India!