Time For Redemption
There is no design to disintegrate the country as the powers that are always maintain. The plain and simple fact is that we the people of the country are responsible for it, the collective conscious and the individual and community consciousness, whether it be ethnic or religious are in conflict. Individually we may mouth a saintly patriotism, collectively we are misguided by herd instincts by which we generalize against communities, and peoples.
Outside the country we are one and do not attempt to adapt to the country which we have chosen for our living. Why is there this paradox in the Indian psyche, is it due to our ethnocentric views, or rabid intolerance.
Take an example, all South Indians are sometimes dubbed as 'Madrasis '. The jokes about the Sikh community might seem ostensibly funny, but they speak of a racism. It is to the grand credit of the Sikh community that they take these jokes in their stride and laugh at themselves. Very few Indian communities have this ability.
Always knowingly or unknowingly we create this divide, hurt a community or a people.We accuse the people of North East India for living in isolation, forgetting that the same intolerance exists in other parts of the country. I have seen Bengali tourists coming to Shillong and speaking in Bengali to the shop keepers - glibly assuming that theirs is an universal language. Nothing can be more short sighted and parochial than this.
What happened in Mumbai against Bihari inhabitants is the travesty of the times, that too in a part of the country considered to be progressive. This unity in diversity will remain only in text books, unless we practice what we preach. Our pluralistic societies which could have been our inexorable strength, are proving to be our bane. The fact is that we don't believe in a rich diversity, we believe in diversity in seclusion, in isolation, and in a herd mentality.
We accuse Muslims in India of being anti national, but we forget that the moment we are in the company of our linguistic brethren, we start speaking in 'our' language, crassly insensitive to the feelings of others, who may not be able to speak in that particular language. We have biases after bias. Hence generalizations like North Indians, South Indians, Punjabis (meaning Sikhs) and now North Easterners, forgetting the variegated cultures of North East India.
Look at what happened in the Bodo areas of Assam. The moment some of us realized that the victims of the trouble were Muslims, some political parties and quasi political parties started pouring vitriol against this community. The illegal immigrant was equated with Islamic fundamentalists and of course the ubiquitous ISI, and Pakistani elements. When will we ever learn. Mass generalizations against communities, both ethnic and religious take the front seat forgetting the backdrop of inter caste animosity, and distaste for the lower castes, the Dalits et al.
Do we forget what B.G. Verghese mentioned in the eighties, why there was mass conversion into Islam in South India? Why did it happen? Internecine caste rift can also destroy the fabric of societies. The entire country is vulnerable to such inimical forces, by our divisive behaviour and actions, and not just Jammu and Kashmir and North East India.In fact basically the people of North East India are not only very friendly, they are gentle as well, extremities of historical and social pulls, and a wrong understanding of these have led to the chaos there. Then there is the notoriety of refusing to understand historical perspectives in the context of Islamic culture in India.
The Muslims came to India with the Arab invasion of Sind, and thereafter followed a series and wave of incursion and immigration. That led to flowering of cultures, the Urdu efflorescence and the grandeur of Mughal architecture, both language and religion were marked by syncretism say for example Sufism.Yet we have made religion doctrinaire.
The same happened with Christianity, its advent being in the second century A.D. Yet again, there has been the vilest of attacks against Christian missionaries who have contributed so much towards education.We drove an internationally renowned artist for a blemish, refusing to condone him, and forcing him into self exile. We should have hung our heads in shame at his demise. We did not do that.
Time not only to introspect, my countrymen, time to redeem the pristine glory of the country, before it is too late, before fractious elements take over.
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Ananya S Guha
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