Two news articles that came in the Electronic Media caught my attention and they called to my convictions, my opinions. The topics are at an instant, different issues, but looking at the big picture, it is the same underlying issue. One article by M Surendra Nath (‘Mumbai based Lawyer and Law Lecturer’) on Kerala’s ‘Ungodliness’ and the other by Anish Kapoor, the Noted British-Indian Sculptor on Hindu “Taliban”, and the BJP. It represents two extremes, one the possible view of the “Sangha Parivar” and other the view of all “Right thinking Liberals”. I vehemently disagree with both. I am caught between a rock and a hard place. My view is that I will not agree with either.
At this point, I feel that my beliefs are being hijacked by the “Hindutva” agenda, and on the other end, I feel the effects of a “Colour Blind” Secularism. The issue of “Beef Ban” highlighted day in and day out by the media houses is something that has been a divisive issue for centuries. The controversy acquires more relevance considering that even the Indian Constitution endorses the regulation of cattle slaughter. I believe that “Beef Ban” or whatever movement that seeks to regulate the platter of anyone is against liberty. If I want to eat beef, I shall. If I want to eat pork, I shall. Nobody, be it the Government, any Political Party, any Religion, can tell me what to eat, what to drink, how to live my life. Nobody has the right to do so, and that right is the most essential to me. I oppose anyone who says that Beef should not be eaten according to Hindu beliefs. Hindu beliefs are varied and ever evolving. Cow is regarded as a symbol for its selflessness, kindness, and love. Whatever reason it be, it is precisely my right not to eat beef that is your right to eat beef. I oppose all sorts of bans on beef, pork or mutton, not questioning its legality (which is a different matter) but its arbitrariness. I also oppose those who say it is a source for ‘protein’ for whomsoever. I don’t care whether it is a source of protein or fibre or whatever, it is my right to eat.
But I cannot agree with the views that many “progressive liberals” have come up with: that the Dadri lynching was the fault of the Prime Minister. How could it possibly be? The cancelling of Ghulam Ali’s show was a ‘Political’ one, caused by the Shiva Sena, But the Fatwa by Barelvi group Raza Academy against A.R. Rahman was swept under the dust. The reasons, I believe, are self-apparent.
Anish Kapoor’s article heading scared me – it was titled “India is being ruled by Hindu Taliban”. The tone of his article is exceedingly alarmist. The title itself conveys imagery of a horde of fundamentalists ruling this nation. Let me assure you that the nation is being ruled by a democratically elected government held accountable to the nation. The activities of a few fringe elements do not define us. The Speeches of Yogi Adithyanath are not the views of Hindus, or Asaduddin Owaisi of Muslims.
Returning to the article:-
“All this is good news for Prime Minister Modi, who flew into London today. He won’t be seriously called to account for human rights abuses or systematic thuggery. “
I don’t understand. What Human Right abuses our prime Minister is to be held responsible for?
He further says:
“I’ll be joining protesters outside Downing Street today. Following the lead of India’s opposition groups, we have a duty to speak out for the people Modi is trying to silence, precisely because we are free to do so.”
I do not understand which people Modi or the Government of India is trying to silence. The article is built on a misguided view, and the fact that it appeared in The Guardian goes on to show the continued negative portrayal of India in the foreign media.
I’ve been (I was) forced to believe that India had become intolerant. That our nation was creeping to a theocracy under the “Hindutva” forces- BJP, RSS, Sangh Parivar etc. The “Award wapsi” movement did not help either. Eminent Intellectuals from all spheres of life relinquishing awards to register their protest. But a part of me remained unconvinced. How could stray incidents (that happened all the time) make India intolerant suddenly?
Turning to history, India has been a nation of refuge for Parsis and the Jews. We are the birthplace of Four Great Religions- Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Modern India harbours all three of the world’s largest religions- Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. There has never been a continuous persecution of any community based on their religion in India. Yes, there have been riots, there have been incidents which would shame us as Indians. But suddenly now, all communal incidents in this nation was the responsibility of the Union Government. The murder of MM Kalburgi is, apparently, the full responsibility of the BJP, or more specifically of our Prime Minister.
The activities of bigoted, stupid, idiotic, ignoramuses now define my nation.
Yes, we are a society that overwhelmingly is conservative. Yes, People will judge me for how I look, who I go out with, where I go to, when I go out. That hasn’t changed much. I’m talking about the intolerance alleged by countless debates and articles over the last month or so.
The incident in Dadri or the murder of MM Kalburgi must be condemned, no doubt. But to blame this on the Union Government is well, to say, farfetched. The stupid and idiotic pronouncements of Yogi Adityanand and others did not help the situation either. Asmentioned earlier, criticize where it is necessary, not make statements that fly off the rational mind. My point is simple, the so called liberals are as bigoted and stupid as the “Hindutva” agents they oppose.
If you blame the Dadri incident on the Union Government, please, blame the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2012 on our then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. Blame every single violent act done in the soil of India on the Government of India.
Now to Award wapsi. awards, such as those given by the Sahithya Akademi, and Padmas especially, are recognition of ones service to the nation. If you’re returning them to protest intolerance (something I don’t see, but it goes what goes) aren’t you dishonouring the nation? The way to protest, according to me, is to write, write and write, as Vikram Sampath noted. I saw a cartoon on Facebook comparing the return of awards by our intellectuals to the return of Knighthood by Tagore and Kaiser-i-Hind by Gandhi in the wake of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre to the current award returnees. Well, I do admire the ingenuity. But the cartoon could not be more off the mark. Gandhi and Tagore protested against the massacre by a colonial government. You’re comparing that to the incidents that happened, and our government to a repressive colonial one, that suppresses all forms of dissent (Remind you of something? (***Emergency***)) Anish Kapoor might have represented at least some when he compared the current Government to Taliban. Okay great. What comparison is next?(Daesh?)
Going back to the intolerance debate, I don’t think our Indian media was gracious enough to report this incident:
Where the sacred symbol of Aum was compared to the Nazi swastika, and Modi to Hitler. Branding every Hindu a supporter of extremists, equating them to a regime which is the most despicable the world has ever seen. And no, not a single finger was raised in India. NOT A SINGLE FINGER. Ah well, it seems the intolerance has suddenly died. I am offended and antagonized by the incident. (Suppose the same happened to any other religion? What would be the response of Indian media then?) Whatever message these people are trying to push through, it has been counterproductive.
When you take a stand against intolerance, please, mention this too.
Now, to Aamir Khan. I have no clue why suddenly, his wife decided India was unsafe. I’m not making any further judgements, he can say what he wants to.
Political & Communal Violence is a staple in India, we’re a land of a Billion people. There’s bound to be incidents. But rather than trying to stay on track, these intellectuals seem to be working for political capital.
But the arguments and the provocations by the other side, have been equally saddening. The Anti-Sikh riots of 1984 does not validate BJP molesting us now. (They ain’t, and which has earlier been tackled)
The rhetoric of the Shiv Sena and the Bajrang Dal was so irrational and stupid. (One lakh for slapping Aamir Khan? Are you Serious?) They replied to accusations of intolerance with intolerance, but then again, those who protested against the inclusion of Vikram Sampath in the Banglore Lit Fest on the basis that he did not support “Award Wapsi” is well, intolerant. (Protesting against intolerance by not tolerating someone who has a divergent view? Go figure that out.)
I’m disappointed by both sides of the coin- both are not letting each other be, both refuse to be objective.
In conclusion, I’m dismayed. I’ll tell you one thing though:
The solution to bigotry, stupidity, extremism, idiocy and fanaticism is not to crib about this.
The solution is not to say “This is Bad, so we’re gonna leave.” NO.
It’s to say, “Look we have these problems, we need to solve this.”
NO PLACE IS PERFECT.
It’s time we stood up and said, “Enough is enough”. And not just to crib about this one day and move on.
Raise your voice when necessary, when it is needed, not when it helps yourself, when our freedom is being suppressed
I conclude with APJ’s words, which I hope will guide us:
“We must think and act like a nation of a billion people and not like that of a million people”
First Posted on wordpress:chhitblog.wordpress.com
By Ananth Krishna S
Credits for cartoon: R Prasad (https://twitter.com/rprasad66?lang=en)
“India is being ruled by a Hindu Taliban” by Anish Kapoor as seen on 17:58, 06-12-2015
“Kerala : God’s Own Country Or Godless Country?” by M Surendra Nath as seen on 17:59,06-12-2015