When everything turns communal
Columns, Point of View

When everything turns communal

November 19, 2019

By T.J.S. George

Come to think of it, everything in our country has a religious dimension to it — food, clothing, Universities, Hospitals, Civil Service, the professions like Law and Journalism, and even this column because its byline has a religion’s brand on it. (I gave up religion long ago.  I retain my belief in God but see religion as the commercialisation of God for purposes of politics and profit.)  If my name were P.L. Santosh or K. Swaraj or even Shri N, the religious neutrality of it would have given the views I express a better chance to be judged on merit.  But now, the self-appointed patriots of the country look at this “foreign” name and conclude that I can only be anti-national.

I defy them. I even show up the inherent anti-nationalism in their posturings.  But nothing gets through to people whose minds are poisoned. In the Indian air, the non-religious is also associated with the religious.  In other words, the dominant status religion has in our country is not challengeable by anyone under any circumstance. That explains why Babri Masjid remained on the national calendar for almost 500 years, disputed and debated but never decided.

That Mosque has been bedevilling our history ever since it was built by the first Mughal emperor in 1525. At last, the Supreme Court brought the matter to a closure. Fortunately, the allotment of the disputed nucleus of the land to Hindus did not lead to “celebrations” of a provocative nature.  For its part, the Sunni Waqf Board reflected a considered view when it said, “we welcome the verdict.”  There were dissenting voices on both sides but they were not heard too far.

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Now what?  There are some observations in the judgement that encourage sober thinking.  The Masjid was built, the Court said, on the remains of another structure, but there was no evidence to suggest that structure was a destroyed temple. It also put faith above law when it said “the area under the central dome is indeed the birthplace of Lord Ram as per the belief and faith of Hindus.”

But there are other points in the judgement that should lead to some kind of Governmental action, of which there is no sign.  The Court said the demolition of the Mosque was a blatant violation of law.  L.K. Advani’s Rath Yatra was the single most important factor behind that violation. It raised communal emotions as nothing had done before. The Liberhan Commission also found Advani along with Kalyan Singh (UP Chief Minister at the time) and others guilty of inciting communal violence.

Following the Babri verdict, Advani said he felt “vindicated.”  On the contrary, he should have felt cornered because the Court described his activities as an offence.  The seriousness of that offence should never be forgotten; it caused riots across the nation and led to the killing of more than 2,000 citizens. That the case has dragged on does not             reduce the gravity of what the Supreme Court described as “a crime that shook the secular fabric of India.”  If anything, the gravity has increased because a confidant, who sat with Advani and helped in the offence is today the Prime Minister.

Ultimately, it is not the judicial rulings or the secular fabric or even the Constitution that matters. All that matters is the audacity with which politicians manipulate or ignore the system.  For them, religion is a political tool.  Ram, too, is reduced to a tool.  The demagogues who provoke hatred and violence in the name of this God or that are not Messiahs of Hinduism but Shylockian merchants of Hindutva. To use Ram as a bait for votes is to defile Ram.  But they don’t care because they see votes as more important than Ram; proclamations to the contrary are just hypocrisy.

In the process, India has become the world’s most communal polity. A Temple or a Mosque or the birthplace of a God — should these be the  obsessions of a 21st century nation talking about a $5 trillion economy? It looks like we have lost even the ability to feel ashamed.

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Is this the country that had a Golden Age under the Guptas (320 to 550 CE) when things like zero and chess were devised? Is this where the Cholas (10th century) raised Temple art and architecture to glorious heights? Is this, come to think of it, where Shah Jahan and Humayun and Akbar created poetry of the soul? Or is this merely the land of Aurangzeb reborn in saffron?

Cry, the beloved country.

[email protected]

www.tjsgeorge.info

3 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “When everything turns communal”

  1. boregowda says:

    George will not rest till Hinduism is driven out of India. With people like George living amidst us, we do not need external enemies.

  2. Strangeworld says:

    @George,I am rightly assuming is a Christian, a converted Christian from Hindu as Christian missionaries arrived centuries ago converting the lower caste Hindus into Christians promising to to make them superior.
    Hinduism is a non-converting religion. It is a broad minded and flexible religion, where one can worship at home, and there is no single religious book which controls Hindus’s lives! That is the greatness of Hinduism.
    Christianity held a strangle hold on people’s lives as wide as: “food, clothing, Universities, Hospitals, Civil Service, the professions like Law and Journalism” in George’swords,for centuries in countries where Christianity is a major religion. Sunday,for example was declared as the day of Sabbath so that all activities including business were closed, forcing people to attend the church. In some Western countries in Europe:like Germany and France, major superstores including grocery stores are closed on Sundays. .In Ireland,a Catholic country,the clergy dictated the laws to be passed which meant that the pregnant mother cannot be saved if the fetus is dying, as live-saving abortion was banned until recently.
    The draconian practices demanded by the clergy in Christian countries,meant that people simply ignored the teachings and that meant these days on Sundays in Christian countries, the Churches are almost empty. If the big grocery stores are closed in Germany and France,small grocery stores have sprung up every where defying the preaching of the clergy. In Italy where the Vatican is located and where the Pope pontificates banning divorce and gay practices,divorce is at an all time high.cohabitation without marriage has become the norm.
    Many European and American universities began emphasising Christianity and practices,but during the last century,,they could not attract students, and hence they threw their doors open for those non-Christians!
    Christianity did not adopt to times and is dying in Western countries. I live in a Western country which was once strongly Christian,and because of the draconian life Christianity demanded,Christians ignored them,and are becoming secular. There is a very long queue near a university campus during lunch time on week days,so that they can be served free vegetarian lunch by Hare Krishna representative!! I can see most of these students come from Christian families!! Hinduism saves the lunch expenses of these Christian students,who eat a very nutritious vegetarian lunch thanks to Lord Krishna!!.
    If one lives in the strong Bible belt states in the US,one feels how these Christian zealots dictate one’s lives. Schools there are mandated to teach the Christianity version of evolution rather than the Darwinian evolution which is scientifically the right evolution.
    @George ancestors were clearly Hindus,and he should hence have a more tolerant view of Hinduism!

  3. Strangeworld says:

    Just to add to the above. @George is looking at Hinduism in particular through BJP precepts and practices,which are narrow and strictly very communal. BJP misrepresents the spirit of Hinduism. Just as one should these days not look at Christianity as it exists today through the Bible bashers of the Bible belt in the US.
    The strong point in favour of Hinduism is that,it does not have a single religious book like Koran or Bible,which can have strangle hold on their followers. Even Bagavad Geetha, the book which can be used to swear a Hindu Jury in Western Courts,does not mandate a strict set of precepts and practices, but just gives words of wisdom which followers can interpret in many ways.

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