India, one of the oldest continuing civilisations on earth, is a great mosaic of different cultures, religions, ethnicities, ideologies and philosophies. From the Harappa and Mohenjodaro civilisations to the advent of the Aryans, the Huns, the Kushans, the Shaks, the Turks, the Afghans, and the Mughals, India as a nation assimilated different races, cultures and traditions while preserving its own throughout history. Assimilation and synthesis of diverse traits had always been a peculiarity of India. Consequently, it made India a land of “Unity in Diversity”.
Our past heritage of tolerance, mutual co-existence of diverse groups is laudable and admirable. But apart from our nostalgic past when we introspect our nation’s current political and social scenario, we find that we are moving in quite a reverse direction. Bonhomie of tolerance, Unity in diversity, mutual respect of views and diverse ways of life seem to be vanishing with the passage of time.
Now, the notion of ‘us’ and ‘them’, “we” and “others “ are emerging that declares those who are culturally, racially, religiously, ideologically different from majoritarian are the real “others”.
Whether they are Dalits, Minorities, northeastern, opponents of cultural nationalism, all are collectively stigmatised as ‘others’. However, it’s worth mentioning that minorities especially Muslims remain a major target of this process of ‘otherization’. There is no room left for contrasting opinions.
A relentless crusade has been waged at multiple levels to embolden the idea of “us” and “them” because it is the very plinth on which certain organisations thrive.
Group of media, Intellectuals, public figures are perpetuating the very notion, which has far-reaching drastic consequences on the collective psychology of countrymen.
Constant depiction of ‘others ‘ as a problematic threat to the nation, aided by prejudiced public discourses is steadily eroding the composite culture of India, that evolved over thousands of years, from Ashoka’s Dhamma policy, Akbar’s ‘Sulah-i-Kul’ to Gandhi’s truth and non-violence.
Distorted representation of facts and news with half-baked theory are acting as precursors to radicalisation and extremism on both sides. Spate of hate articles, slogans and videos, trolling groups on social media, permeating unsubstantiated fear and hatred for “ problematic other”.
Through manipulated facts and stories, they are trying to create opinions based on hatred, irrationality, that suits to their ideology, and unconsciously, thousands are falling prey to it.
Amidst all these manipulated news, facts, trollers, biased media houses are acting as “opium of hatred” for the masses. An opium, which has potential to normalise the prejudices and heinous crimes against ‘others’. Justifying abusive language against Kaur, Dadri lynching, Pehlu khan lynching, resorting to violence in Delhi university student protest, justifying mob justice, linking Najeeb with ISIS are the mere reflection of its dangerous consequences. On its zenith, this ideology would jeopardise the security and social fabric of the country.
Intellectual and rational voices are beleaguered by populist follower’s rhetoric, the notion of nationalism has been hijacked by some groups. Dissidents become synonymous to anti-national. Government apparatus instead of acting as a bulwark against these hate mongers, are hands in glove with them.
Apart from this, major threat that would distort social fabric in long term is education system and textbooks. Now, the fanatics are trying to present a distorted version of history. By shameless manipulation of facts , they are trying to invent new past for the nation. They are trying to represent political malfeasance of Muslim rulers through the religious angle, and through gross exaggeration, they are trying to demonize the identity of Muslim rulers. Controversy over Tipu Sultan and Aurangzeb, issue of Babri Mosque, declaring Tajmahal as Tejomahalay are the reflection of such attempt.
Through distorted version of history, they are trying to show that entire history is a story of battle between two religious and ethnic group, and their interest was antagonistic to each other, so that a sound ideological base could be founded, to indoctrinate hatred in coming generation.
All this attempt is further emboldening the notion of ‘us’ and ‘them’. If we dissect their saffronized version of history, we find that it is a mere modern iteration of Jinnah’s two nation theory.
Interference of religion in politics further making the mockery of world’s largest democracy. Power hungry hawkish politicians are flirting with religion, exploiting sentiments of the masses to convert it into electoral fortunes. So called custodians of religion is also pampering these power hungry politicians for their selfish interest.
Mandir, Masjid issue, riots and killings, mob justice, vigilantism, hate speech have become tools to polarise the votes, and used as a upstair to reach the parliament and assemblies. Divide , polarise and rule become the new incarnation of Divide and Rule policy.
This Unholy nexus of politics and religion may benefit both the parties in short term, but it would cause irreparable damage to resilience, plurality, composite culture and unity in diversity of India in long term.
We must not forget that India is still nation in making. Its not the story of distant past ,when country was on verse of violent conflagration in the name of language, culture, north south drift. Violent anti-Hindi protest in south India, Khalistan movement in Punjab, North east separatist movement, Kashmiri militancy, Maoist violence in Bihar, Bengal ,Chattisgarh and Orissa are names to few.
Emboldening the notion of ‘we’ and ‘them’ on basis of religious identity, would further contaminate the different existing identities other than religion, like region, language and culture. It would create innumerable cleavages and fissures in our nation. Consequently, Variegated diversity and plurality of our country would cease to exist.
In the past, we had already witnessed dreadful consequences of hate politics. Once United India got divided into two nation, followed by violent conflagration between two communities. Catastrophic turn of events killed thousands, and displaced millions. It was the most horrific chapter of Indian history.
Unfortunately, still, we Indians are following the same pattern of politics. Once great Philosopher George Bernard Shaw quoted “We learn from history that we learn nothing from history”. The same statement is very well suited for us. We are repeating the same past mistakes. The country is witnessing historical anomalies. Current politics is also based on “hatred for other”, religion is being used for mobilising the masses as it happened in pre –independence era.
We don’t know, on its zenith what would it (hate politics) culminate into? Destiny of nation is hidden in womb of future.