By Vijay Darda | 12-10-2015
The entire chain of events during the last few days leaves us with one simple conclusion-hate is no recipe for progress. No one wants to slaughter cows, let there be no confusion in anyone’s mind about it. There are state laws banning it, and there is a provision for harsh punishment too. But let it not be forgotten that India for all its lip service to the ‘sacred cow’ is one of the major beef exporting countries in the world. We have been the largest exporter of beef in the world since last year, and under the Modi regime our lead over second-ranked Brazil has further widened with a projected total of 2.4 million tons exported in 2015 against Brazil’s 2 million. The ‘pink revolution’ may have started under the UPA regime, but it peaked during the Modi regime.
It thus follows with reason that before the defenders of the Hindu faith and gau mata kill a person through a medieval mob lynching process merely on the suspicion that his family had beef for dinner, they should use all their persuasive power with their government and ensure that India does not remain the largest beef exporter in the world that serves this food to millions round the globe? Or else you only prove that though you aspire to be a vishwa guru, your power only extends to a helpless middle aged Muslim and you are helpless with your own government. The RSS as the most powerful organisation of the Hindutva, does little justice to its credentials by this behaviour.
Similarly, the most powerful prime minister since the mid-eighties, Narendra Modi also does little justice to his macho persona and image when he takes more than a week to respond to such an incident. But the problem with his reaction is not that it was delayed or merely echoed the sentiments expressed by the president Pranab Mukherjee about the need to preserve the civilizational heritage of the nation. The difficulty is with his solution to the problem. There are two aspects to his prescription. One he considers that it is for the Hindus and Muslims to choose whether they want to fight one another or poverty. Then he wants the people to ignore all comments, even if made by him against communal harmony.
When the prime minister places the Dadri incident as a ‘fight’ between the Hindus and Muslims, then it becomes relevant to ask a few questions. How is this supposed fight with each other taking place? Where are the Muslims attacking the Hindus or vice versa? What is the role of the state when a law and order situation arises? At Dadri, did the 50 year old Mohammad Ikhlaq even throw a stone? Was there any counter-reaction when the Hindu mob “inspired’ by an announcement from the temple went berserk and killed the helpless man ignoring all his entreaties? There was no communal tension, there were no fiery speeches, but this was a plain and simple targeted murder. The UP government in a report submitted to the centre has also clarified that the substance in Ikhlaq’s refrigerator was mutton and not beef. When the heat of the moment cools down, it is clear that only purpose of the attack was to send a message that the mob rules the roost and people can have a life style of their own only at their peril.
As for his suggestion that the statements from the so-called fringe elements be ignored, the point is that it such statements that create the atmosphere in which the killings take place. Besides, he has placed a premium on such statements by rewarding all these people with ministerial berths and seats in the parliament. You just have to look at the career graph of the people with a track record of such statements, to realise that even when he tells the people to ignore them, prime minister Modi certainly rewards them.
It is in this context that the protests from well-known writers like Nayantara Sahgal, Ashok Vajpeyi, Shashi Deshpande, Krishna Sobti, Sara Joseph who have returned their Sahitya Akademi awards assume more than the token significance. Their argument that the country cannot afford another “Dadri and Babri” would be echoed by all thinking people who wish the country well. The writing community gives voice to the conscience of the nation, and by their protests they have strongly conveyed the message that the nation has been hurt. Indeed, when the critics seek to lightly dismiss these protests, they also compound the problem. It is doubly distressing that a party that has been in the opposition for decades should lightly take the value of dissent in a democracy.
The basic democratic, plural and liberal character of India, predates both Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh. Both Hindus and Muslims have lived comfortably with each other for centuries even prior to the birth of both them, Nehru’s wisdom was in furthering this idea. The RSS has a project to undo the idea of India, both as a reaction to its larger failure to prevent the partition of India and to counter Nehru. It was for this reason that one of its staunchest ideologue L K Advani became persona non grata after he lavished praise on Jinnah. By praising Jinnah, Advani was also validating Nehru. This was an unacceptable act of ideological blasphemy for the RSS.
Now that they have won an election and formed a majority government at the centre, the RSS ideologues could be forgiven for believing that it is a mandate for their concept that in India the minorities should not only be not given any preferential treatment, they should even be deprived of the citizen’s right. Expressing this ideological position one of their brightest minds Subramaniam Swaamy has even argued that the muslims should be disenfranchised. But then it for prime minister Modi to realise and enforce that such a recipe is the sure road to disaster. More so, when he spends a bulk of his time convincing people abroad that India is the right destination for investment. Can mob killings and integration with global economy go hand in hand? Surely, the prime minister knows the answer.
Before I conclude…
The Shiv Sena’s objection to a concert by the famous Pakistan ghazal singer Ghulam Ali in Mumbai for an event to remember the late Jagjit Singh simply beats comprehension. What have they proved? No one questions that their heart does bleed enough for the soldiers dying on the border, but then there has to be a difference between politics and creativity. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis did show that sensitivity and I am sure there are enough people in the Shiv Sena to appreciate that music transcends all boundaries. Besides, it is an appreciation, for our Indian great Jagjit that a Pakistani wants to pay him a tribute to mark his death anniversary. Luckily, for us there are other places in the country, where they do not mix politics with music.