Intolerance and Hindu/Muslim polarisation in India in 2015.

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India is undergoing a delicate phase in History. There is a section (RSS) which claims that it is first Hindu Government after 800 years and there is opposition (read Gandhi family) who agrees with it and asserts that the present BJP/Modi Government is Hindu fundamentalist Govt. See what an agreement. Left of the center party is agreeing with RSS a rightist organisation. This is rather an anti- polarisation. Everyone is agreeing but BJP in power is pleading for tolerance and not taking any position at all. But it would not be that way for long.
However whatever may be the stupor of politicians, the polarisation is in every society. it may be in different stages but process of integration and polarisation is a an integrated one. And it is a fact not a metaphor. However here the discussion is about polarisation or division of society on religious lines more so between Hindu and Muslim.

What is polarisation?

A personal experience would explain it. About two decades back I represented a complainant before disciplinary committee of Bar Council of Delhi. The defendant was a Muslim lawyer. Allegation was misbehaviour on the part of lawyer outside the court which would not be suitable as per professional etiquette and ethics.

The hearing was taking place in a large committee room with about 60 seats. Two members of Disciplinary Committee were not sufficient in quorum but then the chairman arrived. Defendant was represented by his son who was also a lawyer and two more lawyers accompanied him. In a few minutes a few more lawyers entered claiming to assist defendant. All Muslims. They often have distinct (moustache less) beard and skull-cap. In a few minutes, a few more of his supporters entered. In next 10 minutes more entered and room with over 60 chairs was full. An apparent show of strength. And it was childish if not stupid.
What happened next is irrelevant because the very fact that a Muslim lawyer is showing his vote bank to the elected representative in Bar Council is self-explanatory. I had never seen anything like this before. My first brush with vote bank politics.

Now if the complainant had retaliated with his Hindu vote bank (no such thing existed back then) situation would have taken a nasty turn. But today it is possible. It has not happened any where so far but my sense is that it is possible. That is completion of polarisation.

Back then there was no ‘Hindu Vote Bank’ concept but there was concept of vote banks of different castes of people but that would be subject of different writing.

How polarisation started?

Another story first. Long time back we (me and my father) went to a wedding party. There was delay and my father decided that we would leave and have dinner somewhere else. Even though vegetarian, he liked continental cuisine which has been modified here to accommodate vegetarians. We stumbled upon the Le Meridian which had a continental restaurant on top floor. It was full and we had to wait a few minutes for a table. In the meanwhile a foreigner white couple arrived but were accommodated before us. It was discriminatory if not racist, I said to my father. No it is not, they are just being protected for being more vulnerable, was his reply.

This story depicts how the first step of polarisation starts with compassion. What started in 1947 as a compassion to heal a wounded community distraught by partition and riots went too far and now apparently an opposite vote banks of majority is being built up or is perhaps is already there. What started as naïveté is now a harsh reality of polarisation. Whatever may be the cause, polarisation always hurts in long run. Does any one remember Aurangjeb or Hitler?

It is unfortunate that instead of starting a debate to redefine secularism which is now called sickularism in social media, political parties are still trying to garner votes and gain power through bigotry.

Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal who called at Imam of mosque in Bareilly (on 4 Nov. 2014) before elections now calls BJP names because they seek blessings from religious persons of their own faith i.e. Hindu priests. There can not be any worst example as other parties have always done the similar things in the past. Kejriwal claimed to be common man yet he approached Muslims as vote banks and not as citizens. It is also unfortunate that Muslims also respond as vote banks.

About Muslims in India:

This article is not about Muslim bashing. In my personal experience, if a person is ever in trouble, except in riot prone areas, she/he can always trust a muslim. They are persons of astute personal integrity and have a commitment to their God to be honest. In my personal commercial dealings, I have always found them upright and model citizens. Of course there must be some bad examples but bad apples are in every community. Muslim are exceptionally hardworking and honest people. We have a society which is commercially interwoven with muslim community any one airing even a remote possibility of tinkering with the Muslim thread without affecting the fabric of country is lunatic if not outright fool.

Tolerance:

When Yakub Memon, a convicted and self-confessed, terrorist was hanged and was to be buried, Muslims turned up in hordes on the streets of Bombay to join last prayers in solidarity but with whom? A terrorist? What a shame. Even in Pakistan, no one could do that for Osama Bin Laden. And there is intolerance in India?

More particularly I would like to ask all those offering prayers: Are you and your families do not visit public places or immune to bombs?

Intolerance or pushback

Actually what is called intolerance has nothing to do with facts. What is expected but not expressly said is that there us a pushback by rhetoric from some self proclaimed Hindu leaders. They talk in same nonsensical language as their Muslim counterpart. Now the secularists want this rhetoric to be controlled while not having any complaints about Muslim rhetoric, now or in the past. This tacit intolerance to one ideological bigotry while ignoring or siding with other bigotry is the real problem. Bigotry must end in every section of society. Period.

Can we now call it off and start a healthy debate as to how to be a responsible citizens and not to hurt each other on religious lines? Can we vow to behave like ‘ordinary’ citizen ant to become mob behind the gown/apron/dhoti of a religious figure instead of dealing the matter as ‘ordinary’ citizen?

Because if it does not happen and majority became a mob (vote bank) tyranny will rule and roads will be bathed with blood. We must learn from dark ages of Europe when Christian majority wrecked havoc on minorities. Provocation is grave and Muslim leaders like Azam Khan and Quaisi do not make it easy but somebody has to talk it out.

Who will bell the cat?

About Sandeep Bhalla

A lawyer, thinker, author, Linux/Ubuntu power user and sometime an economist or gardener or philosopher or cook or photographer depending upon the current thought and environment. View all posts by Sandeep Bhalla

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