This article has been written in response to an article published in the Indian Express written by Mrs. Tavleen Singh titled as ‘Wisdom in a dark time’ on 9th of July.
Mrs. Tavleen Singh has been a regular contributor to the IE, if one goes through her ideas published in the past few years then one could easily identify her being slowly and gradually converting herself from being a supporter of PM to being a soft critic of him especially after the series of Lynching which took place in the name of cow. The recent article which appeared on 9th of July made some exaggerated claims with regards to the prospects of Jihadist being overtaking India.
The article starts with an argument that the ideology of jihadist Islam is the exact opposite of the idea of India. The Idea of India as per her can be best summed in the Dalai Lama’s words. That India has been a home to the idea of secularism, inclusiveness and diversity. Yes, India may be a home to such ideas but when it comes to practice of such ideas it has never been in the forefront. First, the idea of secularism simply means treating every religion equally but any read person can give ample examples of favoring a particular religion over others in the matter of governance in the day to day life. The state in the Indian context has always been Brahaminical (Hindu) either soft or hard.
Second, the idea of inclusiveness was alien till the Buddhist era when the Buddha and his disciples’ challenged the dominant Brahaminical discourse by giving equal opportunities to lower castes and women’s in the matter of knowledge and spirituality. But, after what Ambedkar called ‘counter-revolution’ i.e., back to Brahaminical discourse the idea of inclusiveness lost its prominence. Later, many individuals including Kabir and Phule did tried to bring the notion of inclusiveness back but it was Ambedkar with constitution that an attempt did looked successful. But, despite of having a progressive constitution carefully crafted by taking into account the heterogeneous stocks of India, those who had given the responsibility to implement the idea of an ideal society based on liberty, equality, and fraternity have failed to live up to the expectations of the masses. The reason for failure was obvious, that those who had given the responsibility to uplift the backward classes and minorities where themselves the perpetrator of violence and were themselves the real culprit of the backwardness of the masses historically.
Thirdly, Diversity is by product of heterogeneous masses that resides on this land. But, diversity does not only mean prevalence of differential customs, rituals, and practices it means valuing and cherishing those practices by different social groups too. Here the fault emerges; the practices of castes are restricted up to their group itself and are considered as unsacred by other castes groups or religious groups. The practice of particular social groups is hardly valued by other groups.
Hence, it would be an exaggeration to use these big words which makes little sense to the masses and are never practiced in general.
Further, the author suggests that the new interpretation of Islam is being tested in the
Kashmir valley and also in the districts of west Bengal that borders with Bangladesh. And that the problem of Kashmir is not political. For the author this is a religious movement which threatens the value enshrined in the idea of India especially the problem in Kashmir. But, really is it the case. What a Kashmiri wants is freedom, freedom in the sense free from violence, intolerance and suppression by political interests. The problem of Kashmir is not a religious one but a political one. What they demand is independent elections and stoppage of interventions of interests groups. They still argue as to why their PM was jailed for 17 years, and as to why the referendum never took place so that they could have decided their own faith. We have taken Kashmir as our ‘saakh ki baat’ we want to get it according to our own rule not Kashmiri’s. Had the Indian government provided them with basic facilities and freedom to move the problem would not have been this worse.
It is not hard to find a placard or written script in wall as ‘India go back.’ We don’t enjoy their trust due to our own doings in the past. Hence, it would be wrong to say that the problem is not political. When an individual is not provided with its basics rights he or she is bound to get caught in rhetoric of others and this is what being happening in Kashmir. If, youth are made radicals then it is a byproduct of our failed political attempt to resolve the issue. Hence, politics does lies at the heart of Kashmir.
In the next section, the author looks very conservative when she argues that it has worried her when she sees Mamata Banerjee fraternize openly with bearded maulanas. What does such statement indicates. Further she also looks suspicious to her practice of using veils to cover her head in the Islamic style and even holding her hands up in prayer in Islamic style. Why it should worry anybody. Doesn’t the PM does the Ganga Arti, doesn’t he puts ‘Tika’ on his forehead and uses Brahmins for performing Puja openly. Why she does not have problem with it. All political leaders do this even our Hon’ble President do Puja openly. The Prime Minister and President are also holding constitutional post of highest level then why do they perform Puja or Havan or value some beliefs which contradicts with the our constitution. Then why doesn’t this all worry her. She argues that Banerjee’s use of Islamic style sends out “Dangerous message” what does it means.
In fact in today’s scenario the quick rise of holiness of cow (mainly due to coming up of right wing government) did send “Dangerous message” to the masses and orthodox Hindus to beat and kill humans. With regards to the riot which took place in Bengal, any learned person can predict as to who will get benefit of it ie, benefit of creating a Hindu and a Muslim block. Today, a BJP MLA even went on to argue that Hindus of Bengal must teach a lesson to the Muslims as they did in Gujarat. The author must be fearful of such hate speeches which creates condition and this kind of speeches do sends “Dangerous message” not using Islamic style for praying.
Further, she gives examples of a town in Philippines which has been recently taken over by the jihadist groups. And asks whether such incidence happens in India, then she says such thing has already happened in some districts of Kashmir. Here the author has failed to understand Indian Muslims. The Muslims of India despite being suppressed and marginalized politically, economically and socially have never in the history of Independent India argued for creating such Caliphate kind of place for them. The majority of Muslims are suffering discrimination on daily basis due to their faith, appearance, food habits among others but they still shows confidence in the Indian constitution which remains their only savior. It is heartening to see how a political leader which claimed to represent them denied the incidence of death of Pehlu Khan or how the political leaders are ignoring the series of lynching of Muslims in the country in the name of cow. We qualify for being the only country in the world where animals are much secure then a human being from the particular communities.
Despite of repeated evidences of backwardness of Muslims established by various committees governments are still to take any step forward for the upliftment of Muslim community in India. The State and the larger society have betrayed the Muslims community but the community has not. This is the difference between Indian Muslims and those who aspire for creating their own caliphate in other parts of the world. It would be a foolish attempt by anyone who tries to find common traits of Indian Muslims with those fighting for ISIS or other groups.
Last but not the least the author also has an advice for us all. That the Gaurakshakas are not representing the idea of India, they need guidance both political and religious and must be sent to some ashrams where they can learn spirituality and yoga. The gaurakshakas does not require guidance Mrs. Sigh because it is the same political and religious leader who has given them the license to kill humans. I think the gaurakshakas also did represent the idea of India. India is not a peaceful land. The idea of tolerant India is socially constructed by the upper caste and class for their own interests. India has been a place of riot, caste violence and hatredness. How long do we hide behind the veil of myth of tolerant India and only blaming Muslims for violence and terrorism?
The author must feel secure and must not panic. The Indian Muslims are similar to the Dalit’s and Adivasis of India who have been betrayed by the state and society at large but they have not.