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Secularism for Whom?
|by Ananya S Guha|
The victory of Naredra Modi and the BJP in Gujarat was expected. It shows a people’s mandate including all sections of the society. However, the BJP fanaticism or its harping on everything that is Hindu must also change and they must adapt themselves to certain local and even historical dimensions. It is a good sign that Narendra Modi has won which shows acceptability of all sections of the society. However, the Hindu and Hindutva bug must go just as the Congress must refrain from talking on divisive lines that is minorities are unsafe there. This was their pre-election campaign.
The pre-election campaign of both the parties spoke on very divisive lines which further hurts the compositeness of Indian society. The victory testifies that it is the verdict of both the majority and the minority that is acceptability and this verdict should be taken as the people’s decision or will. A recent article in the Outlook Magazine highlighted such tendencies to divide society on minority majority lines in Gujarat and contended that it was detrimental to national interests. Political parties must refrain from such fissiparous tendencies. Now, this victory should not be taken for granted but we should work towards a secular outlook.
Anyone professing secularism today in the country is dubbed as a pseduo secularist. What does it mean? It also means that both the Congress and the Rightist Parties talk of secularism in their own interpretive ways. While the former castigates the latter, the latter in turn mouths platitudes and actually begins to talk about societies in terms of minority interests and so on. In doing so it at once polarizes the society and the country as a whole. If we are to talk in one breath about India we have to realize the secular values and principles upon which this nation is founded. We cannot talk about religion first or minorities first and then speak about the country. It has to be the other way round.
The recent rape of a young lady in a running bus in New Delhi has led to loud protests from all over the country irrespective of ethnic and religious groups. The protests have come from all over the country loud and clear. It is the Indian sensibility which is in wrath, mattering little which community the lady or her friend comes from. The fact of the matter is human dignity has been violated in the worst definable manner, and this has led to the demand of capital punishment for such heinous crime and moral decrepitude. It is the moral view point and the issue of deprivaty which are being inquired into. The same thing should happen if the crime is perpetrated against a foreigner.
It is high time that we continue defining and redefining Indianness. What does it mean? What does it uphold? The concept of India is greater than Indians said M.J. Akbar in a recent visit to Shillong. Before discovering Indianness we must comprehend the dimension of India and what it entails with referential meanings of caste, community, race and religion. This must be one of the basic tenets of education in school and college. Only then can be uphold the sacrosanct value of what it means to be Indian and the hallowed concept of India. In the brutish episode in New Delhi, as well as those happened earlier there, as well as in other parts of the country, have been examples of not only the violation of women’s rights but violation of human rights. Such transgressions are seen even in fractious fights among communities whether they are on religious or ethnic grounds. At that point in time, it is the vulnerability of the country and its integrity that are exposed in the worst manner. Once we respect humanity we respect every man and woman in the country immaterial of the fact to which region they belong to, what language they speak and what religion they profess.
So, introspecting it is undoubtedly a fact that the BJP’s victory in Gujarat is a mandate of the people; Hindu, Muslim and Christian. It is up to political parties to review and reappraise the concept and notion of secularism. This is the fight in the country between embattled forces of both secularism and those which have pretentions to it, but are totally off the mark.
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