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  Opinion   Oped  11 Jul 2018  Pluralism is the bedrock of our country

Pluralism is the bedrock of our country

The writer is Editor-in-Chief, Financial Chronicle; Visiting Fellow ORF and eminent author. He loves the space where politics and economics converge.
Published : Jul 11, 2018, 2:50 am IST
Updated : Jul 11, 2018, 2:50 am IST

The trolls targeting India’s foreign minister are an extension of this same ugly discourse.

 The attacks by the cow vigilantes or gau rakshaks this year was termed the worst since 2010.
  The attacks by the cow vigilantes or gau rakshaks this year was termed the worst since 2010.

We live in anarchic times. Giving credence to the fact that truth is nice, but rumour is priceless, a faux cultural nationalism is sweeping India, a cultural nationalism that has miasma and prevarication as its edifice. Its dangerous spin-off is mob lynchings. And if you go deeper into the concentric circle of this phenomenon, you can see a dangerous convergence of thought and ideas. Imagine, sitting ministers of this government are batting for these despicable people. It’s distasteful. Whatsapp is merely the messenger or instrumenatlity, what about the mood and the environment created by this shocking narrative which is leading to lynchings?

Cattle smugglers, cow vigilantes, cow slaughter are the words and terms that have taken precedence over others to enter our lexicon. Mob lynchers are out on bail, they are being garlanded by ministers while another minister is vowing justice for the riot accused.

In this theatre of the absurd, reasoning and rationale have been tossed out of the window as Hindu majoritarianism takes centrestage. The polarised environment gives the proponents of Hindu majoritarianism a licence to indulge in public lynchings.

India’s moral fabric is being torn apart and the general sense is that the ruling party is actively using its heft to protect the lynch mobs.

This cannot be a happenstance since many of the accused are out on bail. Our junior civil aviation minister, Jayant Sinha, educated and erudite, is guilty of cheap theatrics to substantiate his actions. He actually tweeted that the high court had suspended the sentence of the accused and had released them on bail.

Mind you, the operative words are suspended now acquitted. In this atmosphere of fear and hatred, anti-minorityism is ruling the hearts and minds of the mobocracy. As usually happens in such an environment, the lumpen proletariat takes over.

Years of minority appeasement have taken their toll on the collective psyche of Hindus, who were distraught at the extent of this pandering. Narendra Modi’s emergence as the “Hindu Hriday Samrat” against this backdrop acted as a catalyst for the spread of this unique cult.

Unfortunately, the actions of the uncouth have had a detrimental effect on India’s discourse, leading to Islamophobia and Muslim-bashing. The Prime Minister has never publicly succumbed to this negative debate, but equally he has not chosen to distance himself from this by openly criticising these hotheads.

Angularities and idiosyncrasies aside, to become a captive to this degenerative dialogue is not ideal. When we look for leadership in society, we look to our politicians to provide direction, but sadly the BJP and its top deck don’t inspire too much confidence in this regard. All this raises the suspicion as to where their loyalties really lie?

With the BJP leadership choosing not to address these issues directly, divisiveness is taking root in India. It is a dangerous trend that will lead to some sort of backlash sooner rather than later, for a particular minority community is being targeted repeatedly. In Hapur, the police has been left red-faced for it had put together a strong case against the 11 accused based on video footage of the crime.

Ditto in the Jharkhand case where in the Alimuddin Ansari lynching case, Vikram Prasad became the ninth convict to secure bail. Another known hothead Central minister Giriraj Singh claims that Hindus are being suppressed in Bihar and the accused are being implicated in false cases. As a society and as a nation, where are we headed with this narrative?

Even as civilisations march forward, these are trying times in what is a throwback to India’s ugly past of a communal cleave which has left thousands dead. The trolls targeting India’s foreign minister are an extension of this same ugly discourse. The social media and its baggage of hate and venom are part of this neo culture, one that is tacitly being approved of and supported by the powers that be. Home minister Rajnath Singh’s move to come out in support of Sushma Swaraj was well appreciated. But not by all, for this transgression was symptomatic of a larger malaise. Like a terminal disease, this affliction is spreading quite rapidly. What India needs to realise and address is that unlike the United States and large swathes of Europe, we are not battling immigrants from outside as part of building walls of ethno-centrism. The minorities are a part of India, and we cannot wish them away. These clumsy but violent attempts at intrusive and invasive behaviour are attacking the very idea, ideal and idiom of India — as our forefathers had envisaged it. Hindus are the majority and we will remain so, this is our country, but equally it belongs to all the other minorities who are much smaller in number. No one can ignore this reality. The behaviour of Central ministers, therefore, simply cannot be condoned.

Tags: cow vigilantes, pluralism, mob lynching