The agitations over the proposed increase in quotas for the backward classes are gathering momentum. I wonder how long we Indians will continue to live in a nation divided along caste lines. In India or abroad, we rarely identify ourselves as 'Indians'. We are first regional and then religious and then casteists and finally national. Not necessarily in the same order but ironically for the vast majority, the identity as an Indian citizen comes last. Even within the Indian diaspora abroad, we like to be identified by our linguistic and thereby regional roots.
India itself has seen many recent examples where we have been neatly segmented into blocks of votes for the convenience of political parties. First Mr. V.P. Singh made us aware of our caste by resurrecting Mandal. His legacy to Indian politics can never be forgotten as he gave rise to various regional outfits who today unashamedly and blatantly ask for votes simply because they belong to the same caste as you. Not wanting to be left behind, Mr. L.K. Advani and his gang of Hindu fundamentalists further divided us along religious lines by exorcising the ghost of Babri Masjid and Ram Janmabhoomi. Their claim to Indian political history is even richer as they can lay claim to be the brains behind the largest bloodshed that modern India has witnessed from Mumbai to Godhra.
Suddenly religion and caste have become much more important than water, electricity and poverty. How many of us bother to read party manifestos before elections and how many political parties for that matter fulfill the promises made in those manifestos. National, financial and foreign policies are discussed in star-studded television studios but very little percolates down to the common man.
The names of V.P.Singh and L.K.Advani will go down in Indian political history as those who made sure that even a child of four in Independent India is incredibly aware of his religion and caste.
They have helped to create an atmosphere in which to discriminate has become regarded by some as not only a legitimate course but a moral and religious duty in pursuit of perceived justice. The crime that has been committed is the same - divide people and line them up against each other on communal lines. Now Arjun Singh is trying to create a place for himself in Indian political history.
However what I find difficult to believe is how a mass of humanity of 1 billion can be fooled by a bunch of rogues. All of us irrespective of our political and religious ideology agree that politicians in India are corrupt and self-serving. Election after election, promises of development and upliftment are made and nothing comes out of it. If we are so sure that these politicians are after one one thing - our votes, then why can't we call their bluff. Why can't we recognize the obvious and refuse to be drawn into this never-ending saga of divide and rule that they have learnt from our colonial masters.
Why cant we prosecute the likes of V.P.Singh, L.K.Advani and Arjun Singh for gross and criminal violation of the Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution consisting of
Articles 14 - 18 on Right to Equality http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equality,
Articles 19 - 22 on Right to Freedom http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom,
Articles 23 - 24 on Right against Exploitationhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploitation,
Articles 25 - 28 on Right to Freedom of Religion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion
Their crime? That I am no longer just an 'Indian' citizen. They have ensured that my identity has been broken down and manipulated to the lowest common denominator and I have (un?)willingly become a pawn in electoral games our politicians play.