Beyond Hindu-Muslim, a misguided nation

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We are a nation full of misguided citizens. The adults, the youth, the elderly most of us who could have been a change-maker are now misguided citizens. There has been much talk about the demographic dividend of India and that we are the youngest nation in the world. Contrary to the popular perception we are not benefitting from this so-called demographic dividend, rather it is churning out more and more problems for us. 

Why do I call us a misguided nation? From Delhi to Darbhanga, the whole Hindi heartland is angry, angry with something or the other. Someday it is angry at some politicians, someday at some professor, someday at some comedian, etc. What’s ironic is that these are the very same people who have been lamenting at the state of affairs of their city or town for past 10-20 years because the roads are not being built, the drainage system is not there, and a myriad no. of problems, are also the people who call protesters as anti-nationals. It is laughable that they feel those who question the people in power are idle and unemployed people, having nothing to do, while it is their own city that has not seen a single employer for decades. 

Traversing through the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, you will realize that there is hardly any family who has no migrants. Most of the villages in UP, Bihar, you will find families where each one or other is employed in some industrial park in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Haryana. Go to any industrial or metropolitan city, you will find thousands of Biharis or UPites toiling day in and day out so that they can earn money and send back home. No one wants their son to study in Universities of UP & Bihar. The state of education is in shambles, there is no employment, and there is no development except for highways that have been under construction for 5 years. 

Everyone is outraged but instead of trying to question their leaders, bureaucrats all we do is now to target those who actually question the government through their own mediums. Someday it’s a university that will be labelled as a den of anti-national, another day a comedian becomes anti-India, next day an intellectual becomes Urban Naxal. This labelling of people as mullahs, katuas, deshdrohis, Hindu-virodhi, naxali, just shows the level of discourse on the internet. With each and every passing day, we fail in every social and development indicator but the nation is more interested in knowing what label that organization would be which revealed our present dispensation’s incompetency rather than what our leaders have done till now to prevent such situation.  

This youth fails to notice the hypocrisy their leader uses to target their opponent. The other day I saw many right-wingers on Twitter citing Amnesty International’s statement for lack of freedom of religion in Pakistan while it is they who will call Amnesty India as an anti-national for pointing out the same fact in India. It is high time the youth recognizes and tries to act in a non-partisan way of looking at things that dictate their life.  Politics must be reformed and it is us who need to question more and more, this silencing of opinions must stop. Today you will support this, the next day when you will be in the same situation and no state government apparatus will help, it will be you who will be labeled as an anti-national.

Indians need to stop labelling and stereotyping everything, we need to grow out of our forefathers’ shadow. We need to recognise our diversity and inclusivity to create a sense of togetherness so that society can foster a revolution for change. Not the change of government but a change in attitude, change in the way of looking at things otherwise it won’t be long when this youth bubble will burst in its worst form.  

But all this criticism can not be bereft of a single side. The misdeeds of the minority and the attempts to cover-up by the secular and liberal intelligentsia while denigrating the other side is not unknown to many. It is an unsupported belief but can be argued that by defending bogus practices and impractical rituals while attacking anyone who criticized such practices and rituals, the secular liberal intelligentsia did more harm to minorities than the right-wing. Of course, it does not justify the right wing’s constant abusing & lynching of minorities and Dalits which they have been carrying out under false assumptions creating a reign of terror in the past 6 years. 

A cursory reading at the Shah Bano’s case from 1985 in Zia Mody’s book “ 10 Judgements that Changed India ” will open your mind to such disgust and ignorance emanating from the Muslim community that will be hard to comprehend. Congress’s successful attempt of reversing the decision through an ordinance could possibly have been the biggest possible mistake in Independent India which provided the impetus for the growth of the Radical Hindu Right. To undo that wrong, Rajiv Gandhi opened the doors to Ram Janmabhoomi Temple and we all know what that led to. The subsequent Babri Demolition and riots in 1992 changed India politically and socially like never before. More and more faultlines emerged and the wounds deepened so much that it was hard to be healed. 

The biggest problem with the Muslim community has been of seeing everything through the prism of religion and a belief that it’s an unshakable line. I hold the Muslim clergies and the religious leaders fully responsible for such beliefs. For long, priests and maulvis have radicalized people’s views on religion to cement their status in society. There is a big need for introspection among Muslims too and they can’t shy away from reform now. It is in their best interest and survival that they challenge themselves on an upward path of social mobility leaving outdated religious beliefs as a piece of baggage. They have to do their own kind of Public Relations in a bid to change their image. Muslims living in Islamic countries are anyways doing a great disservice to Muslims around the world by making themselves more rigidly Islamic. Take the force of education and jobs slowly and slowly on a countrywide scale to change this scenario. 

If all this is true then at the same time, we need to understand that there is even bigger responsibility now on the liberal and rational characters of the society. The fractured politics filled to the brim with hate will boil over our head for a time now and it is in this pandemic of hate we have to blossom lotus of rationality and humanity. Loving and peaceful Hindus will have a bigger and much more role to play in how our society will move forward. Rational Muslims will have to push their community from a religion based to the education-based approach of life a priority. 

Students on both sides have the ability and credentials that can change our society and nations for years and much of that depends on how we move in the next 10 years? Will we have more sensational media and vigilantes or more sensible educators and activists? We have to wait and watch. This might be the most important and turbulent period in the history of Independent India like the ten years of 1985-95 when everything changed.

Featured Image Credits: Times of India

Rohit Shukla
Rohit Shukla is a student of Journalism at Delhi School of Journalism, University of Delhi.

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