OMER ASAD SHAIK | Caravan Daily
TO love a human being, one doesn’t need a reason. But to hate someone, there must be a very strong reason. Yet we see hate everywhere in our society. Not a single day passes when we don’t get to see or read hate crimes.
Lately, hate crimes have increased manifold in India. These crimes are usually committed against people belonging to poor, weak and marginalized communities. The one factor that contributes to this hatred is the othering of a particular community or a group of communities on the basis their race, religion, culture or any other traits and their demonization through systematic and virulent propaganda.
Usually, human conscience doesn’t allow one to commit a crime against fellow humans especially if he/she does not pose a real threat to one’s life and liberty. But people, over the years, have discovered several ways to overcome this nagging conscience that comes in the way of such diabolical indulges.
The one way to overcome the pricking conscience is degrading a person or community by branding them as sub-human, unworthy of human empathy or compassion. History is replete with incidents where such tactics were used against entire communities and peoples to horrific consequences.
The fraternal bonds among us humans are not superimposed as many might be thinking. As a matter of fact, the entire human species shares a common bond. We don’t need a religion to prove it, this is a fact no sane person can deny. Yet we see supremacist movements that claim ethnic or cultural primacy of one community or race over others flourishing in many parts of the world.
In the US and Europe the White supremacist movement is spreading fast and wide. What is of concern is that a few elected representatives are openly racist. The most notable among them is US President Donald Trump. Thanks to the US judiciary, media, and constitution, such people are under check.
The disease is not confined to the West. It can be found in many Asian societies. Even a great nation like India with religious, cultural and ethnic diversity has been overtaken by a racist philosophy when rightwing Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power at the Centre.
Ever since his ascendance to the highest pedestal of power in the country, Modi engaged himself in implementing his party’s diabolic sectarian agenda of pushing the minorities to second-grade citizens and to make them irrelevance if not finish them off altogether’.
To comprehend the magnitude of the problem, one needs to first understand the religious, cultural and ethnic structure of Indian society and the immense risk posed by the Hindutva ideology. The risk is not just limited to India but to world peace.
India is the second-most populous country after China and by 2050 it is expected to overtaking China and become the most populous country in the world. Indians neither belong to one religion, one language, one ethnicity or one culture. In fact, India is one of the most diverse countries. The very concept of Indian nationhood and its viability will be at risk if the diversity of its people and their cultural and religious rights enshrined in the Indian constitution are not protected.
Unfortunately, the democracy and secularism which have kept India united, despite all its diversity, and made it prosperous are under threat today. And the threat is not from outside, but from within. The Hindutva philosophy, ‘India for Hindus’, which of late assumed an aggressive form, is shaking the very foundations on which the edifice of modern India stands.
To realize political goals, the Hindutva ideology unleashed a reign of terror against all minorities, who constitute around 20% of the country’s population, through systematic propaganda and hate. To put things in perspective, this 22% represents around 300 million people, almost equivalent to the population of the USA. One can imagine the repercussions of this hate-mongering targeted against them.
There has already been a huge increase in the crimes against minorities and Dalits and tribal even as an intense political struggle is on between secular democratic forces and the racist Hindutva forces. Though passed off as internal matters of India, the world can’t remain a spectator since humanitarian concerns know no boundaries. It’s time the world should act to save the situation before it is too late. Global forums including the UN can put pressure on the incumbent BJP government to respect the human rights of its citizens, each citizen.
A democratic and secular India has great potential to be among the world-leading nations but under the current BJP government, the very democracy and secular constitution which has kept a diverse country like India united is under tremendous threat.
The ill-advised and illegal act of abrogating article 370 of the Indian constitution with a single stroke by brute majority without consensus or any deliberation in both elected houses, is an indication of things in store. It will be foolish to believe that it was a one-off case. However, any attempt by the BJP government to dilute the secular identity of the constitution is tantamount of playing with fire and will throw this huge country into a turmoil with tragic consequences of immense proportion.
And this tragedy if happens its consequences will reach far and wide beyond Indian borders. India is a nuclear power and it has territorial disputes with China and Pakistan and all three nations are nuclear-armed nations. Can the world sit quietly and let things reach such a precarious point and a potential nuclear tragedy?