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The Hindu-Muslim Enmity In India Is Showcased With The Right-Wing Response To The Israel-Palestine Conflict

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Disclaimer: Violence in no form or manner or by any person or group is neither acceptable nor must be tolerated. I strongly condemn all violent acts that have taken place and that are currently taking place. This piece of writing is meant to spread peace and harmony wherever conflict exists. Peace is the only way to salvation.

German Political writer Hannah Arendt, author of renowned and respected works such as the book The Origins of Totalitarianism, starts the masterpiece with:

“Many STILL consider it an accident that Nazi ideology centred around antisemitism and that Nazi policy, consistently and uncompromisingly, aimed at the persecution and finally the extermination of the Jews. Only the horror of the final catastrophe, and even more the homelessness and uprootedness of the survivors, made the ‘Jewish question’ so prominent in our everyday political life. 

“What the Nazis themselves claimed to be their chief discovery—the role of the Jewish people in world politics—and their chief interest—persecution of Jews all over the world—have been regarded by public opinion as a pretext for winning the masses or an interesting device of demagogy.” 

Seventy years later and 4,193 miles apart from Germany in India, a young student belonging to a finance background finds her words thunderous. The paragraph with which this book begins is a shining mirror reflecting the ignorance and state of mind of the men, women and the masses of 20th Century world which had witnessed not one but two World Wars, countless conflicts on domestic turfs of countries, empires, provincial estates, princely states and so on.

The young student found the book as an answer to the question that had made it impossible for him to sleep peacefully. The question was haunting him day and night. It was a madness that he was unable to shrug away after all his country was on fire.

After all, his conscience demanded so; after all his soul yearned for humanity for all; after all, he was seeing his own country being destroyed by a few demagogues and after all, he grew up with ideals of integrity, empathy, sympathy, peace and dignity for all. After all, he was born in freedom and he denied to accept that maybe one day he could die as a slave.

The question that haunted him was this. Hundreds of millions of people in India, most of them young able men and women, have become tone-deaf because of the sectorial, communal and fascist propaganda that they intentionally started to deny one section of the society from exercising its fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of India.

They also denied them the dignified treatment of humans where the Indian Constitution speaks about secularism, equality before law and freedom to all for practising any religion and speech.

Kangana supports Israel
Kangana on Instagram. Source: freepressjournal

Now, these same people have been made to purposefully and manipulatively surrender their own independence in the name of “national interests”. They’re made to objectify-argue-exploit-manipulate-coerce others once again in the name of “national interests”. They are being used as tools in the big fascist propaganda machinery, being led towards joining a cult of a fascist leader.

They are made to believe that preaching the leader alone is the way to serve democracy and the nation. We are told that “The Supreme Leader is the Nation and the Nation is the Supreme Leader”.

And what will poor people like us do to save ourselves and our country from becoming what France became during the First World War, what Germany became during the Second World War, what the USSR became during the Cold War, what Iraq became under Saddam Hussein, what Iran became Ali Khamenei, what Russia became after the Cold War and what China became ever since its independence?

The Hindu and Muslim issue in India requires no introduction. The infamy of this issue is spread across the world and some have found a way to find refuge from life in this topic by channelling their anger and frustration. These are termed as right-wing of the Indian society. Many others, after so long, have become tired of it and want to get it resolved, over and out of conversations.

The latter who yearn for peace dream of a world undivided or unified for the right things that should matter in this 21st Century, which can be termed as love for humanity, temperance for each other, sympathy, empathy, mutually existing respect and acknowledged dignity.

Imagine an empty cup. Imagine tea (the most favourite beverage in India) being poured into this empty cup. Every morning many Indians enjoy this delicious hot beverage. Imagine this tea we just spoke of as a liquified version of Hindu-Muslim division, a poison that some people of both religions prepare every day and drink in the morning and all the hours of the day while relishing its flavours.

Such people belong to right-wing groups we discussed earlier. These right-wingers are on both sides of the religion. To say one is more or less is as much a lie as much a distraction tactic.

Every day in India, many issues are floated on social media, specifically, Twitter, whereby Hindu right-wingers, as per their propaganda, float one or the other “hashtags” and tweet in such excessive numbers that the tweet starts to trend. The same is true for right-wing Muslim groups. The trend is not to put forth a topic for discussion, but it’s for igniting the other.

This fever and mania for making things go viral has severely dented India’s image abroad and torn the fabric of social equality, harmony, and brotherhood to pieces on several other occasions.

Now we aren’t going to talk about Hindu-Muslim enmity here, but it does have a direct connection with what we are here to talk about.

Once again, please imagine that there’s an empty cup, the tea of hatred is brewed and ready to be poured and when it’s being poured, the pourer becomes distracted and keeps pouring on even when the cup is full. The tea is now being overpoured. This tea of hatred is being spread on the entire table.

This wastage of tea helps nobody while it becomes a mess for those who prepared and overpoured it. They can’t drink it but nonetheless, because the fragrance and colour of this tea are so appealed they keep overpouring.

Confused? Look at these hashtags: #INDIAWITHISRAEL, #INDIAAGAINSTPALESTINE, #INDIAISWITHISRAEL and #INDIASUPPORTSISRAEL.

These are just a few of the hashtags that right-wing groups in India not just floated but actually, and proudly, made a trending topic.

Tens of thousands of people of Palestine, if not more, are under the threat of being wiped out by a country that has one of the most advanced defence forces. Israel is capable of unparalleled destruction and annihilation, but these right-wing Indians were celebrating in India joyfully.

The grimness of the situation is so unsettling that thousands of people worldwide have been losing their sleep contemplating what the final consequences of this conflict may be. But right-wing Indians, or should I say Hindutva Groups, are overpouring their tea of hatred for the world to watch.

There’s a well-known proverb: “With great power comes great responsibility”, but alas, Israel under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu has completely failed to uphold this wise teaching.

Until 15 May, 2021, 22:54 hours IST: Hamas, a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist but pragmatic, militant and nationalist organisation in control of the Gaza Strip, fired over 2,000 rockets on the civilian population of Israel.

Israel air defence system
The Iron Dome.

Israel’s Iron Dom Defence System has showcased a spectacular technological advancement as it intercepted and destroyed almost all the rockets fired towards Israel except a minuscule number which claimed the lives of many innocent Israeli’s. For that, my deepest and sincere condolences to not just their families but to the entire Israeli population.

In response to this, Israel has been launching air attacks. They have destroyed several prominent high rise buildings claiming them to be linked with Hamas’s leadership, who seem to be using Palestinians in Gaza as their human shields. Once again, my deepest and sincere condolences to the Palestinian families and Palestinians.

But a larger question comes to the surface that when Israel has been able to maintain its defence capabilities with such effectiveness and efficiency till now, it is time for Israel to be the bigger of the two and propose peace talks as Israel’s military power outweighs that of Hamas or for that matter any country in that region of the world.

The use of disproportionate force on civilians is neither protecting citizens of a country nor an act to eliminate terrorism. This has got to stop. Israel is effectively asserting in the world that any country’s leader can act as to his whims and for personal political gains.

If this continues for long, Israel should be seen as the next Nazi rule because if antisemitism is wrong, then anti-Palestinian sentiments and activities cannot be termed right. Violence cannot and should not be vindicated or, for that matter, ever be accepted as justification. Hamas was and is still wrong on its part to fire missiles into Israel.

But so was Israel when it purposefully planned to carry out an igniting and infuriating march on Jerusalem Day through Muslim Quarters which everybody knew would create a problem, which did happen when Israel’s Police violently stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque and thrashed the Palestinians on the alleged pretext that Palestinians started to hurl rocks towards the Police Force.

This rhetoric is an extremely old tactic of authoritarian leaders and it’s no doubt that Benjamin Netanyahu is an authoritarian leader by all accounts. He failed to garner enough votes in his country to remain as its supremo because of four inconclusive elections. The world is silent and occasionally taking the side of Israel in this conflict for varied reasons, but none of them is for the benefit or well-being of Israeli citizens.

And it’s high time that the Israeli people realise that people spreading hatred towards Palestinians because of their religion is not equivalent to being well-wishers of Israel. India seems to be the prime example of it.

I can bet that most Indians wouldn’t even know which religion is dominant in Israel, let alone that the idea that Indians would’ve done their research before mindlessly taking sides and tweeting about it. The conflict of Israel-Palestine requires patience and long hours of studies to even be able to say that one has scratched the surface well.

palestine israel flags
Representative Image.

Some Indians are extending support for Israel because of two reasons. Firstly because an Indian lady was killed in the attack by Hamas. Secondly, because most Palestinians preach to Prophet Mohammed, i.e. they follow Islam. The latter appeals to the right-wing Hindu groups because now they have a purpose of overpouring and spreading their tea of hatred and sharing it with the Jewish people.

Most right-wingers wouldn’t even know the Jews and Jewish are the same thing. But they can easily hashtag and share images of violence with only one desire, that’s to see Islam being humiliated everywhere, be it in India or elsewhere in the world using the hashtags.

True, India is the second-largest country globally, but because it’s an English speaking nation, it becomes the largest congregation of people on Twitter who can amplify any topic. Right-wingers have a dedicated cyber cell. Their voices amplify and, at times, suppress the voices of people all over the world.

And lately, several cases are in the spotlight where this infernal machinery has been continuously used for several such matters, whether it a domestic matter of national significance such as the Tablighi Jamaat, Anti-CAA protestors or calling the farmers protesting in Delhi terrorist, Khalistani, etc.

We must not fail to abide by the human rights of citizens all over the world, even if it seems that these ideas, teachings and learnings of all the previous centuries fail to convince people to pragmatically work for humanity rather than become servile to individual greed.

What is happening in Gaza is causing problems for Israel. What Israel is doing to Gaza while the world is watching in silence today only reiterates that everybody in the world saw Hitler take Poland silently. It was the antecedent to the destruction that followed for the rest of the world later on.

If the world carries on to silently see what Benjamin Netanyahu is carrying out in the name of protecting Israel and if Israelis keep on watching without coming forward to stop its Government from causing such severe destruction, they’ll only prove that when given the chance, they too became and act like the monsters.

The world, including me, stands with Israel and Palestine when they both work together peacefully and without violence.

And my biggest regret as an Indian is that India has failed to communicate this response to PM Modi, one of the best friends of Benjamin Netanyahu, that “India stands with peace and peace alone, peace shall prevail and all violence should be stopped, especially when the violence is so non-proportionate”.

It’s not just the responsibility of the U.S. alone. The learned and educated people of the world need to start becoming vocal and active in making the statement for peace to reach Israel’s supremo, who’s doing everything in his power (however evil it may be) to keep himself in power for as long as he can.

Always remember: Albert Einstein preached non-violence, being a Jew.

And as it goes for right-wing Indians, they preach so much about Hindu Gods but fail to realise that God only preached Dharma- Sankhyayoga (The Yoga of Knowledge) and Karmayoga (The Yoga of Action). But perhaps they have never read the Gita but only pretended to know about it all, just like it has happened with the Israel-Palestine conflict.

I pray that the world finds peace soon enough and Israel and Palestine embrace peace at the soonest.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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