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Fight Terror, Communal Strife by Building Bridges: Rahul Bose
|by Neerja Chowdhury|
Actor-activist Rahul Bose says there is an urgent need to make secularism "active" by reaching out to different communities in small, everyday gestures like offering a lift to someone from another community or encouraging children to share lunch.
"It is the expression in small ways - like offering a lift on way to office to a person from another community, which makes a difference."
"We can, for example, encourage our children to share their lunch with everybody. When there are festivals we can reach out to celebrate them with the other communities - the Muslims reaching out to celebrate Diwali and the Hindus to celebrate Eid. It is the simplest way of building bridges," Rahul told IANS in an interview.
The actor also feels that it is important not to generalize about any community.
"Whether it is the attacks on Christians in Orissa, or terror acts in different parts of the country, it would do well to remember that while a terrorist might be a Hindu, not all Hindus are terrorists. While a terrorist may be a Muslim, not all Muslims are terrorists. But a feeling is growing that all Muslims could be terrorists.
"That idea is extremely seductive. Throughout history it has been found that if you can blame your woes on one homogeneous group of people, it makes life simpler and governance easier."
Is he in favor of banning organizations like the Bajrang Dal?
"I would be for banning any group, including the Bajrang Dal, if it is amply proved that it is behind terrorist activity. In my limited knowledge, organizations are banned because they are terrorist or anti-national, but after that has been conclusively established. We have to wait for that."
However, Rahul pointed out, the larger question could not be ignored.
"Is seeking proof of an organization being terrorist more zealous if it is non-Hindu and less zealous if it is Hindu? The answer today is a clear yes. The non-Hindu organizations are under greater scrutiny today. This is a failure of every single political party."
Rahul is totally opposed to a toughening of the existing laws, being demanded by some groups.
"I am dead against it. If you can prove to me that a diligent execution of all legislation we have so far has been done, then it is fine. But we have not done it."
Asked is the communal virus was creeping into Bollywood, he said: "I have never experienced it. If you took a cynical view, you would say everyone is obsessed with making money or becoming famous. If you didn't, then you will argue that they are truly fascinated with the medium, whether it is a village guy wanting to become a hero or the producer wanting to win an Oscar. It is the medium which dominates all other prejudices."
Rahul received the Eminent Citizens Journalist Award by CNN-IBN for two stories he did - an interview with Johnny Joseph after the floods in Mumbai and the second for getting on the local train the morning after the bomb blasts in 2007 to discover for himself the so-called "spirit of Mumbai".
"I asked people why they were travelling on the train. They told me they did not want to, but had to get to work. If they did not, they would lose their jobs. Their children had travelled an hour earlier to go to school."
Rahul said he found that the so-called "spirit of Mumbai" was created by people "looking for comfortable clichés".
The explanation, he said, "was far simpler and more direct".
Other than social work and acting, Rahul, who won accolades for his performance in films like "Mr. & Mrs Iyer", "Pyaar Ke Side Effects", "Jhankaar Beats" and "Chameli", plays rugby too.
He is supporting several social causes.
(Neerja Chowdhury can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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