Imran Khan in his autobiography ‘Pakistan:A Personal History’ has said that Pakistan, as a country has deviated from the path it intended to follow as per its founding fathers, Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal. This is in no doubt true and we can see that, but has India, which also exists since the time Pakistan existed lived up to the expectation of its founding fathers, Nehru and Gandhi? The answer without a doubt is, No; though our condition is not as grave as that of Pakistan today, but India today is a disappointment which Nehru and Gandhi must be agreeing with from behind their graves.
Our founding fathers had idealised India as a country with Unity in Diversity. A democracy that would emerge from the shackles of colonialism and hundreds of princely states. They imagined India as a nation where people would live without any fear and will be able to hold their heads high, knowledge will be freely exchanged, society would not be broken by petty misunderstandings and hatred. This is how India was supposed to turn out, but the bitter truth is that it hasn’t.
First point, cutting across religious lines, Indians as whole have become way too intolerant. These intolerant people don’t appreciate the idea of India that Nehru had idealised, they see India as Pakistan’s mirror image, like just as Pakistan was formed on the principle of Islam, India should’ve been so on Hinduism, i.e. a sanctuary of Hindus from all over the world (just as Israel is for Jews, Subramaniam Swamy would agree) and not a secular nation. They feel that India should’ve been wrested back as a nation only for Hindus. And as Swamy says in his venomous article ‘How to wipe out Islamic terror’ published in DNA in 2011, Muslims should sublimate to their identity to broad identity of Hindutva and those who don’t, should be denied voting rights. (I ask why? Why would a Christian, a Parsi or a Muslim give up his religious identity to accept Hindu identity? Then what’s the difference between us and today’s Pakistan where forced conversions take place? I recall Derek O’Brien’s article from the Independence day issue of India Today last year, he talked of his cousins who had migrated to Pakistan during the partition and who have converted to Islam to escape the country’s fundamentalists, but he being in India can still maintain his religious identity as an Anglo Indian). Swamy has an irrational fear that the Islamist radicals from Pakistan and Afghanistan who see India as their unfinished business in islamicising their conquests are going to take over the 80% Hindu majority India. He still justifies building the Rama temple at the demolished mosque’s place, he asks for ban on converting to other religions from Hinduism but reconversion to Hinduism from other religions to be allowed, clearly he wants to turn India to an archaic Hindu nation from its current modern secular status, in short, a Hindu Saudi Arabia. He refers to seculars as hijras (eunuchs) on Twitter. What not if radical Hindu ideologies are they, similar to Islamic Taliban? He further talks of annexing land from Bangladesh in proportion to the illegal migrants from that country staying in India. Why? Migrants shift for better lives, there are many illegal Indian migrants world over, what if UK wants a part of Indian land for Indian migrants, would he give it back? Clearly, he seems to have lost his mind and is a gone case.
Goodness politicians like Veer Savarkar and Sardar Patel failed in their ideas and India was born as a secular nation.
They claim India is 5000 years old land, maybe but has this concept united India and made it a diverse nation as it is today? Luckily formers of our constitution went with the view that India may be a 5000 years old land, but it’s an infant nation. A great experiment in democracy to combine so many diverse groups under one nationality. If illiterate Hindu nationalists thought that India should be a pure Hindu land just as Pakistan is pure Muslim state, there was an educated bunch which thought otherwise to make India a secular nation for that’s the true path towards progress, where every citizen would be free to exercise one’s full constitutional rights irrespective of his religion.
But this version of secularism was different from the well accepted western perspective, i.e. separation of state from religion. Nehru, a westernized liberal had rightly adopted this view, but there were people like Sardar Patel who disagreed. In Patel’s view (just as Swamy) minorities would have to prove their loyalty to the majorities. While Nehru rightly thought that contrary to Patel’s view, it was India’s responsibility to make minorities secure in India, free from the fear of the Hindu nationalists like Patel and Savarkar; thus he settled for the version of secularism where India would have to be tolerant, plural and secular; not separation of religion from state, for India was too religious a country to take this step.
Nehru believed that in a secular nation, public officials should never associate themselves with religion, which was clearly not followed under pressure from Patel and likes. Nehru had to adopt this version of secularism because even Mahatma Gandhi, who was tolerant, but not secular in conventional sense, wanted the Patel’s version which required tolerance of all religions but not separation of state from religion. Thus Nehru had to dilute the idea of secularism.
Today Hindu nationalists term the Nehru secularists as pseudo seculars, while in reality they themselves are far from being even a bit of secular.
Thus India is not really a secular nation by definition, or as it is in the US or France. India far from forming a separate identity, frequently caves in to accommodate demands made by religious groups. BJP – a party based on Hindu nationalism, which with it’s religious politics, minority hatred and aim of turning India into a Hindu nation is even today a disgrace to this country – is an example which even has in its manifesto to construct a Rama Temple in Ayodhya with tax payers’ money.
Sadly, in the 80s and 90s, this Hindutva ideology took political form, which brought back the confidence in those Hindu nationalists to ‘reclaim’ a Hindu nation out of India. I’m talking about BJP which was and is associated with radical groups like RSS and VHP. And to hit the correct nerve, they started their agitation to build a Rama temple in Ayodhya where stood a 16th century Babri mosque built in the reign of the Mughal emperor Babur. BJP supporters, viz. these Hindu nationalists believed that the mosque was built by demolishing a temple there, without any proof of this incident. This proved to be a spark for the rise of Hindutva, (which people like Swamy still exploit today, for example wasting tax payers money to conserve scattered stones in Rameshwaram)
BJP along with VHP soon started moving this issue to the center of national politics, BJP which barely won 2 seats in the parliament in 1984 thought of exploiting this issue to its advantage and arouse the feelings of the majority Hindu nationalists in this manner of reclaiming the temple. This brought it into the mainstream, this divisionary and violence creating tactics of making the Ayodhya issue a battle cry, a battle between the sensitive sentiments of Hindus and Muslims which BJP knew they were! It was a bloody battle which had the potential to endanger the Nehru’s idea of India.
So, Lal Krishna Advani started his infamous RathYatra towards Ayodhya inciting people in the way by public addresses to build a temple there for he said, that the centre government (being secular) is denying the Hindus to fulfil their aspirations (such crap) and how building a temple was necessary to ‘regain’ them.
And then the world knows what happened, the Babri mosque was demolished by these BJP goons and riot burst out all over the nation, thus Dawood Abraham sought revenge by planting bombs all over Bombay, including Searock Sheraton hotel and BSE in which 300 people were killed. Hadn’t BJPians indulged in this gruesome act, this wouldn’t have happened. (Similarly, revenge of Narendra Modi’s 2002 out leash were the Ahmedabad’s July 20008 blasts!)
And yet BJP leaders offered verbal assurances to people that the Ram temple will be constructed at that Babri mosque site, and even today in 2013, BJP moves ahead with this point in its election manifesto.
Then another example of the Hindutva terrorism is 2002, which started by the burning up of the train carrying volunteers from Ayodhya to Ahmedabad, it is said that some of the volunteers got down form the train at Godhra and got into argument with Muslim vendors and asked them to recite Hindu slogans. This altercation increased and the result is what we all know, Following that the Muslim butchery that followed in the state is extremely condemnable. Over 2000 died, mostly Muslims, and thousands became homeless. RSS trained Narendra Modi said that it was the outcome of Godhra, action and reaction. It is now known that the killing mobs were led by leaders from BJP and VHP who were assisted by members of local administrations. Modi’s MLA Maya Kodnani is also proved to be involved in this communal butchery. The police gave a free hand to the RSS/VHP/BJP rioters (and I’m the witness of police’s inaction in Ahmedabad) in massacring Muslims, raping women, killing children and burning houses. And after all this (as Barkha Dutt rightly says) the ‘traditionally effete people’ of Gujarat re elected Narendra Modi and the BJP.
BJP is a political arm of the RSS. RSS was founded on the exclusive beliefs that India was a Hindu nation and all other inhabitants are foreigners or those who have been misled by foreigners into other faiths. BJP today is founded on this archaic intolerance which goes against Indian constitution.
Another example of Hindu intolerance is the issue of MF Husain, because of these fanatics, sadly such a great Indian artist had to go to exile and even die outside his country. Thackerays of Bombay have a major role to play in Husain’s case. Bajrang Dal goons in 1998 forced raided his home in Bombay and ransacked it, on top of that Bal Thackeray said that ‘If Husain can step into ‘Hindustan’ what’s wrong if we stepped in his house’, so in his eyes, Husain was a foreigner. Such is the fate of an iconic citizen of secular India.
Shiv Sena was also involved in criticizing of Deepa Mehta’s movie Fire for it was made on the concept of lesbian relationships; also My Name is Khan because as per Thackeray’s, Khan criticized how Pakistanis were excluded in IPL auctions. So Thackerays are no less bigots than BJP, no wonder they have an alliance in BMC.
Such fundamentalists goons like Bajrang Dal/VHP/RSS, ransacked a pub in Mabgalore few years back saying its not part of Indian culture. But such ransacking and molesting girls is, as per them. These self appointed moral guardians beating up women to teach them moral lessons is again the part of Indian culture as per them.
Now coming to Islamic intolerance. Its not just Hindus, but Islam has shown its intolerant face too in India. Now there’s a conflict between nationalism and pan Islamism in Muslims, in other terms putting country first or religion. As per what their religion says that a true Muslim should put his religion first before his nation, which is surely wrong and I’m sorry to say so.
But Indian Muslims are overwhelmingly Indians first. They think themselves as citizens who happen to be Muslims just like Hindus, Christians, Buddhists etc. However there is a radical fringe that thinks otherwise, they use politics for their vested interests to claim the Islamic Ummah’s siege by the state.
Luckily Indian Islam is influenced by tolerant Sufism but these radicals identify themselves more with fundamentalist Wahhabism.
Rushdie issue is the example. We all know how since 1988 due to Satanic Verses, Iran’s Khomeini has declared a fatwa for his killing. Indian radicals influenced by him were not behind, in his hide and seek when he lived in UK, he couldn’t enter India. In January 2008, when Adi Godrej hosted Rushdie, All India Ulema council fumed, those idiots probably might not even have read his book, yet being carried away by the overseas Wahhabi radicals, they relented. They blamed Godrejs that the family had not cared for sentiments of Muslims.
Also similarly in Jaipur literary festival in 2012, huge brouhaha was created over Rushdie’s entry into India, and even they even barred him from joining through a video conference. Luckily Barkha Dutt secretly did it and it was aired on TV. These radical Islamists assume that all communities must care for specific Islamic grievances or must be ready to face the dire consequences.
Talking of Taslima Nasreen, her writings have fetched her freedom awards in the west but have enraged radicals in India, which is why she was led to oust from many parts of India too after Bangladesh. Even today stray incidents like shoe throwing on her occur. She’s still on run not only from Bangladesh, but from West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka too. The grievance of Islamists who spare her no chance, is that how dare the woman who was born a Muslim criticize Islam?
Talking of Sania Mirza, she might have won accolades for India but Mullahs however don’t like what she wears on the court. some of these mullahs passed a fatwa on her, on her dress which they ruled un Islamic. why should they worry? Sania said ‘As long as I’ m winning people shouldn’t care’, but frankly they shouldn’t care even if she’s losing
These religionists, both Hindus and Muslims should learn to be mature. I’m recalled of the Da Vinci Code case, though Christian fundamentalists had some issues with this movie but yet they let it be screened! In my eyes, of the major organised religions, Christianity is most tolerant in the present times. The organised religions have brought much death and destruction all over the world, hence I oppose and reject them.
The point is that when you mix religion with politics, democracy is endangered, example is our neighbor Pakistan which had its foundation on the pillars of religion. The country has witnessed 4 military coups in 60 years, no prime minister had completed full 5 years term until now.
We can call India a tolerant nation, but not secular in true terms. Each religious group demands tolerance for itself but not for others. Nehru moulded India into democracy, he made India secular, yet some Hindu radicals believe Patel and Savarkar should have taken care of India, not Nehru. if so India would’ve been doomed, seriously. Pakistan being an Islamic state has supported religious groups which today have taken form of jihadists, this is a lesson, to never mix religion with state, sadly these Hindu radicals don’t seem to see this clear fact!
All religions fight each other, we can see it around us, in the subcontinent, it’s Hindus and Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus etc.; in Europe it’s Christians and Muslims, and, Jews and Muslims. Religion hardly promotes peace, its all sugar and honey to say all religions’ aim is the same, i.e. peace, tolerance etc. its all bullshit! The same religions within itself too are on conflicts, Hindus’ caste system, Muslims’ Shias and Sunnis, Bohras and Ahmadiyas are few examples, and same is the case in every religion, every sect in every religion insists that it stands for peace and equality bullshit! Thus religion not only provides codes of ethics, it offers opportunities for bloodletting.
Hence on 66th Independence day of India today let’s open our eyes and realise how destructive the influence of religion in politics is and shun those political parties which thrive on this fundamentalism. All for a better India of tomorrow!