Saffron, green, right or leftist, we are not and should not become a country of extremes.
A turning point was the rise of the Hindutva movement, Advani’s rath yatra in 1990 from Somnath to Ayodhya and the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992. BJP had declared that Hindutva would become a political agenda.
By 1993, the Mumbai serial blasts and subsequent riots threatened to tear the secular fabric of the country. The saffron-green clash had come out in the open.
Ever since, India has been rocked by several lethal attacks supposedly perpetrated by Muslim extremist groups claiming to avenge the December 06 incident. What has been done cannot be undone. To use the same incident to inflict injury repeatedly is not a solution. A settlement in court is. The Allahabad High Court has already delivered a landmark judgement on the Ayodhya title suit. Indians must have the maturity to move on.
Because, a divided house means neighbours will meddle and take advantage. Needless to say, several of the bloody carnages have been conceived and scripted in Pakistan, while using the hurt of Indian Muslims as a front.
The consequence of the intermittent cycle of violence has been that it has evoked a hit-back. Saffron terror linked to Hindu radical groups has thrown up a new challenge. The Malegaon blasts, Mecca Masjid incident in Hyderabad and Ajmer blasts are under scanner for the same.
Meanwhile, the dastardly killings in the Sabarmati Express in Godhra and the extremely gruesome Gujarat riots have scarred Indians and damaged India’s reputation abroad.
Since then, has India changed its perception of the way it sees Muslim or Saffron terror. I think it has. Earlier, riots would break out if there was a terror attack. Now, they don’t. People understand that these incidents are meant to incite more violence and create deeper divisions between the two major communities.
India also witnessed attacks on churches and nuns, as an answer to attempts at conversion.
In this day and age, a Kerala professor’s hand is chopped for preparing a question paper considered derogatory to a community! Girls having beer in a regular Mangalore pub, are hauled out in a shameful manner by those declare who themselves as the custodians of our culture.
Such brutal and insane behaviour cannot be tolerated in our society and should be meted out with exemplary punishment. We need to understand the difference between genuine secularism and pandering to minorities or, in fact, supposed majority sentiment.
Education, maturity and a dialogue should be the way to move forward when there are differences of opinion. An India inspiring to sit on the high table can’t be a den of squabbling mobs.
A greater challenge still is the gap between the haves and have nots. The poor too are turning to the ideology of the extreme by picking up guns when there is no butter on their breads.
Joblessness, lack of resources, basic amenities and apathy of government have turned our own people into enemies of the state.
India, in the 21st century, needs to take all its children along, as it marches forward. Some social uplift schemes like Bharat Nirman, NREGA, Right to Education and Food Security Bill seek to take development and well being to the poorest quarters. Direct subsidies are also a welcome move. But the implementation of all these schemes remains a major challenge.
We need to ensure that fruits of 9% growth reach the last man of the country.
Right or Left, we must not be a victim of our own intransigent ideologies. Are Left parties right when they block the Indo-US nuke deal that will create energy security for the future generation? Are they right when they harp on anti-US rhetoric knowing well that their position will only help China?
As mentioned in one of my blogs, in his concluding years as Chief Minister of West Bengal, after an unbroken stint of nearly 23 years, Jyoti Basu realised that his state had missed the bus of industrial growth and had finally opened the doors for foreign investment. “We must not stay back. We must either build or import technology, but the idea behind it should be self reliance,” he said.
He pointed to the new global order, while citing the example of China. “Everyone has changed. Socialists can’t be dogmatists. The Chinese say ‘learn from the truth’. We too must make alterations.”
Considering the labour unrest in West Bengal over investments, his practical words about tackling unions nearly sound philosophical today. At least, I vote for Buddha’s middle path.
India’s progress and benefit should be the supreme concern of all of the citizenry.
And one way I think a lot of our problems would be resolved is if we all adopt a more accommodative “also that” rather than “only this” approach. Really, it may be worth a try.
(This piece on Extremism is part of the Looking Ahead series.)