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The Ghost of the 'Other'
by Ooma Tiwari Tariang Bookmark and Share

Politicization of religion has caused a serious damage to the secular fabric of India. It has polarized people and divided them on grounds of faith and religion. Never in time was the danger as palpable as it is now. A ghost has been created; Ghost of the 'other'. In our minds we all seem to be having a perception of this ghost-a view point generally- that out there, it is all out to destroy us, snatch all our opportunities and take away our freedom from us, inundate us by the strength of their number by going for population explosion. It exists in our minds as a bubble of fear, and we transmute this fear into hatred for the 'other'.

But what is this 'other'? Does it really exist? Are there people out there, out to get us? Is this fear, created by the subversive elements detrimental to the unity and peace of this country? And what is the role of Pakistan in creating this discord amongst the different religious group of this nation? And last but definitely not the least what is the role of Politics and our political leaders in creating and increasing this divide between various ethnic and religious group of our country?

Is this ghost really existent or is it only a general political view created to divide the people for vote bank politics. Where is this ghost, does it really exist in our day to day life. Is this 'other' living next door really your enemy? What is he talking away from you? Will the normal people the 'other' you meet in the walks of life, ever harm you? No they won't! This ghost is nothing but a 'political being' created by unscrupulous political leaders to divide people and create pockets of isolated group of people and than play up to their sentiments for their own ends and benefits. But then don't we all know about it. However, human being is an emotional creature self preservation is an inherent instinct, so he reacts irrationally when that is presumably threatened. Ironically, on this basis of opportunistic vote banks politics, certain political parties have risen to the centre stage of political power in our country. And we see our country in a perpetual state of chaos on the grounds of this ghost, who seems to haunt us from every nook and corner of our country.

The situation has come to a point that even places of worship are no more safe. The rise of Hinduvta and the fundamental elements in it has brought about nothing but danger upon itself. It's inclusion in the political arena has only sensitized the people of the 'other', and created discord and disharmony among communities. Even, as Pakistan has made the most of this situation in our country. Godhara in Gujarat is a most recent example. While, the subsequent temple attacks have proven what the intentions of Pakistan are. A weak India is what they want. Violence has weakened the economy of Gujarat, one of the most prosperous state at one time. Today it is reeling under communal violence perpetuated by Godhara incident, created by Pakistan and furthered by politicians for their own ends and vote banks politics.

Gujarat should be a living example for people of India. Peace eludes it while fear lurks in the lanes and the by-lanes of cities and towns of the state. This ghost stalks every area and humans have become the enemy of its own species, with the stamp of the 'other'. However, the truth is, real people only react in self defence, perhaps fearing the other would attack. The people who had spearheaded the carnage were nothing but stooges acting at the behest of politically motivated leaders. This ghost lurks in the minds of every citizen of the state. So much fear has been created by the politicization of faith and religion, that Pakistan has found it, a perfect ground for spreading communal hatred amongst Hindus and Muslims through out the country. And the political leaders have left no stone unturned, to keep the situation equally volatile with the elections round the corner taking full advantage of this divide.

In Shillong too we have had a fair numbers of riots and violence perpetuated by this hatred of the other' and since the year 1979 this ghost stalks this lovely city of Shillong. Its tranquility and peace was shattered as on that year and today there is this clean divide between people belonging to different communities politically speaking. Although when it comes to a personal level there is no such hatred among people and friends belonging to different religions or ethnicity. I have seen people crossing over and participation in each other's festivals and religious ceremonies and sharing feasts together. But politically there is this ghost which lurks in the dark recesses of our mind reminding us of the other. Sensitizing the people to the differences which is only a political view and existing only in our minds creating this fear. Ironically, people out there are just like each other, every one of them want peace, want jobs, want in the end of the day, two square meals earned with dignity.

And this is exactly what our mind is being diverted from; the inadequacies that we are facing in our day to day life, lack of jobs, opportunities and development, and the total failure of the government on this account. The politicians do not seem to have any authentic issue, on which to demand our votes, so time and again this ghost of the other is resurrected to divide people, on different socio-religious grounds. And the agents of such vested political parties seem to be having an upper hand right now. But for how long is the question? Can they succeed in the long run? Will the issues that bog the people be wrapped up under cover forever? People will have to understand that this ghost, in actuality does not exist, it is just an imaginary weapon created by the vested groups, inimical to the peace and development of our country. Even as communal parties have taken advantage of this to rip up communal and religious passions, to hide the inadequacies and the failures of their respective governments. But this Ghost of the 'other' has become larger then life today' and exists in a ripple and chain effect through out our country threatening to tear the very fabric of our secular nation.  

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