Random Thoughts

Different Breeds

I have often criticized Islam for the murderous nature of regime change common to Islamic rulers in their kingdoms. The early history of Islam in Arabia and Iraq, and subsequently in Afghanistan and Central Asia, followed by Turkey is replete with assassinations of the ruler as a frequent mode of regime change. Afghanistan with its fractious and tribal loyalties has been a terrain impossible to bring order, peace or civil tranquility to. The deadly losses of the British Indian army in the aftermath of winning the first and second Afghan wars and the more recent experience of the Soviet Union and now America bear eloquent testimony to the fractious and quarrelsome, but equally fiercely independent nature of the Afghans. Even the Iraqis are proving to be a bitter pill to swallow.

My purpose is not to mount a tirade on the violent propensity of another religion, but to highlight the everlasting shame of the predominantly Hindu Indians. At the height of the British Raj, barely one hundred thousand British and later on fewer of their Gatling machine guns sufficed to bring order and 350 million groveling Indians bowing in humiliating submission. The usual defenses are the disregard of the common people to any tyrant ruler indigenous or foreign, as their lives were equally oppressive and miserable under any rule; the decimation of the spirit by centuries of Islamic rule; the lack of concept of a nation or cohesive people; illiteracy leading to unconcern and last but not the least the fear and opiates of Karma, Rebirth and Moksha.

The reality is more likely to be the attitude of 'Why rock the boat and subject yourself to the punitive judgments of the powerful'. There is a parallel in what happened to the Native Americans and the Africans. The former could not be successfully enslaved as a group and chose battle, death and decimation, in spite of knowing the futility of the course and the disaster of the ultimate outcome. The Africans submitted, but at least had a legitimate justification. They had been transplanted to an unfamiliar land, were unable to speak the language and could be spotted and singled out because of physical differences. What rationalization do we have for our shame? As Tilak once irreverently remarked ' that if only Indians would pee simultaneously, the copious volumes would be enough to drown all Englishmen! I guess there is one benefit, that in spite of a billion people and dozens of linguistic groups, India is the only former colony where democracy took root and flourished. And the meek shall inherit the earth! It has a more diverse press than America and we need to refrain from following its folly of allowing domination of print, television and radio media by a handful of genuflecting, conniving or inciting media Moghuls, who are motivated by money or power and have
abdicated the responsibility of being the guardians of freedom.

It is easy for people like me to pontificate in the present while brandishing my retrospectoscope, but the moral is not so much to condemn and crucify backward in time, but to take a solemn oath for the future ' NEVER AGAIN. This is a resolve not to be enslaved or colonized, not some cry of chauvinistic jingoism masquerading as a fanatic patriotism. Patriotism is the last resort of scoundrels as Dr. Samuel Johnson said. He probably meant politicians and elected officials, a pardonable mistake for a first attempt as a lexicographer!  

01-Jun-2003

More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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