Sunday, July 8, 2012

Going Beyond Communal Ideology and Violence (Part 2)

This article was published on Pul-E-Jawan website on July 5, 2012. This was written few months back as an exercise to understand the rise of Hindu Nationalism post 1990. This is a small part of a very elaborate discourse. This is also the second and last article in the series published at Pul-e-Jawan. 

Edited by Amrendra Shrivasrava for Pul-E-Jawan 

Communalism can prevail in any religion. The equation of minority and majority is present in every society and country, be it Pakistan or Sri Lanka or Bangladesh. Majority religion in one country is minority in other. For example Hindus are in majority in India, but minority in Pakistan. The threat and insecurity is same for every minority irrespective of the country and religion. Reasons are manufactured to support the ideology of communalism.

Different communalists will have different narrative to support his/her religion. We also need to understand that Hindu fundamentalists do not represent the entire Hindu community. But they are people who believe in the ideology of “Hindutva”. Bipin Chandra explained in “Communalism- A Primer (2008)”: 
"Communalism is basically an ideology. By ideology, I mean a belief system or inter-related assumptions through which polity or society are viewed. Communalism is, in other words, a way of looking at politics and society and politics organised around that ideology.”
Ideology is important to spread the communal cause virally. Other activities are secondary and follow from the basic communal ideology. It is very much important to combat the ideology. Post independence, secular leaders including Nehru thought that communalism will die soon with industrialisation, spread of education and progress of science and technology. Leftists also believed that class struggle will overshadow the communal forces as they were talking about social transformation. Therefore little attention was given to the content of education and the scientific temper. As a matter of fact communal ideology has gripped the society. There has been a long and strategic penetration of the ideology including ‘Saffronization’ of school textbooks.

Communalism will not go on its own, whatever other steps like industrialisation and spread of education are taken. In recent years we have seen communalisation of a different kind as well. The communalisation of the police, administration and judiciary is no less than an alarm for the peace lovers and peace seekers and more importantly the secular identity of India. 

Communal violence cannot be confused with communalism. Communal ideology in many cases lead to communal violence, but the former is primary and the cause, the latter is the consequence. We must be clear in our minds that the Babri Masjid demolition or Gujarat riot were not simple sudden event. The ground for these celebrated RSS events were created well in advance in form of the ideological trap. No doubt that these violent acts helped spread the communalism hot-house fashion. It is the state who alone can successfully counter communal violence. A secular administration and police is required for this. What if the police and different officials are communal? This can only lead to a massacre of the “other”, as happened in the Gujarat riots where police administration was asked not to act for 72 hours while the burning was in process! 

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, realised this. He advised the Chief Ministers of different states on 1.10.1950. He said:
"If they (District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police) are competent and right minded, nothing wrong is likely to happen. But if they are not competent or if they temporize with communal or anti-social elements then trouble is bound to come sometime or the other. I think it would be a safe policy to put a black mark in the record of every district officer when a communal incident takes place and to inform him of this. The best of excuses are not good enough, just as all the reasons in the world which a defeated General may advance for his defeat are not good enough."
The supposedly Nationalist movement in independent India by the fascists Hindus had made the people of the country witness the worst time in a country known for its peace culture.

Saeed Naqvi in his ‘Musings of a Muslim’ in Sunday Times of India dated December 6, 1992 observed: 
If one day the Babri Masjid is dismantled, my faith in Hindu catholicism informs me that a large section of the Hindus will be as pained (they want the temple to be built, not the mosque to be destroyed) as the Muslims in India and Pakistan will be. 
Ironically, on the very day that the above was published, the Babri Masjid was destroyed by a 300,000 strong mob in Ayodhya. The demolition of the mosque plunged India into the worst outbreak of communal violence since partition. 

Rear view of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya - Wikimedia Commons
After the demolition of the mosque there was an immediate outburst in the country. It seemed to many that the demolition was the first step in transforming ‘Hindustan’ (Urdu name for India; Urdu is an Indian language made out of Hindi and Persian language) into ‘Bharat’ (Sanskrit name for India). This lead to riots and killings of the Muslims in different parts of the nation. Innocent Hindus, who had nothing to do with the demolition, were also brutally killed. The politics of hatred once again proved that it saves none.

The culture war has done no good for the country and the greater humanity. Instead it has made the people learn “the art of hating”. In such times it is essential to look for the peace processes and the peaceful way for a better future. 

It is important not to be apolitical in such a politically volatile time. Being apolitical makes one an easy target of the ideological trap. It is just not about taking sides, but one needs to analyse the time he/she lives in. Politics of Hatred is not only suicidal but has the potential of mass destruction. 

A poem in Hindi can be quoted here to conclude:
“Agar tum Musalman se nafrat karte ho
To Musalman hoon main, 
Pasand nahi agar koi Hindu 
To Hindu samajh lena, 
Sikh ho agar napasand 
To samajhna sikh mujhe, 
Isaai ya yahoodi- 
Samajh lena mujhe apni samajh se… 
Kyoki tum insaan se nafrat karte ho, 
Aur insaan hoon main!” 

English translation:
If you hate any Muslim
Then I am a muslim, 
If you do not like a Hindu 
Then consider me a Hindu, 
If hating a Sikh helps you 
Then let me be a Sikh, 
Christian or Jews- 
You can consider me with all your wisdom… 
Because you hate a human, 
And I am a human! 

-Nihal Parashar


About Nihal Parashar 

Nihal Parashar is a peace activist who uses theatre, writing, teaching and social media to bring peace.

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