The communal unrest in the country stirs even the calmest of minds. India has known a fair share of religious conflicts but it feels like the intensity meter keeps heating up instead of turning off. We would expect that with improvements in education and globalization, we would learn to co-exist and learn to define the secular outlook in an objective way. Well, about time we accept that’s a distant dream.
Look up the definition of secularism. You’ll be surprised to find that it has nothing to do with a country treating all religions equally or making exclusive policies to uplift religious minorities. Secularism, by definition, means separating the political proceedings of the country from religion. Religion goes its way and political administration its own. As per the ideal of secularism, they don’t intercede. One doesn’t influence the other.
Well, secularism in India is everything but that. If you haven’t been living under a rock and if you are not completely blinded by ideology, you will admit that secularism in India practically means the majority religion compromising to make way for the minority. Selective minority.
The collective image of secular India often makes me wonder where after all we went wrong. Where did the youth of the country learn to hate their roots and seek identities in places that are no better than their own? Who associated shame with the practice of native religions and why did the youth buy into it? Who normalized the idea of uplifting the minority AT THE COST OF the majority? And what were the sane minds of the country doing when intellectual materials were indoctrinated with content that spewed venom on native heritage? Why did the instances of selective outrage go unpunished?
And now, is it too late? Are there just too many movies where Hindu priests are projected as thugs? Too many text books that glorify invaders and call them the architects of India? Too much material in popular culture where ‘breaking the shackles of oppression’ equals demonization of Hinduism?
It all feels too much, but perhaps its not. The truth of the land has stood its ground for millennia now; through invasions and attacks from forces that attempted to wipe it out. It has survived until this day, and continues to thrive in ways that don’t make headlines. And will continue to do so. The said communal battles are fought more on television debates and social media than it is on real ground. Yes, the war penetrates at certain points and takes in victims like the Palaghar Sadhus and Kanhaiyya Lal and the many others who were put to death over their stances pertaining to the majority religion. But what is the perpetrator taught about karma? Does he believe these deeds go unpunished after all, and will lead him to a victory of whatever kind? And the community of self-designated intellectuals veiled by a hatred for the majority – because it gives them a sense of identity to just rebel against the norm, even without reason – does it assume it’ll be given a share in the victory?
It’s depressing sometimes to stand by and watch as the country struggles to survive attacks from destructive forces. What is more depressing, however, is that the forces meant to protect and uphold the nation’s best interest are constantly indulged in doing the exact opposite. The worst, most uncultured swines are in fact found in the most elite circles of the nation. There’s a steady attempt at tarnishing the heritage, calling the culture outdated and replacing the ancient with invading ideals. Not that they’d succeed, but how distasteful nonetheless.
If only the young can learn that connecting and upholding their own roots is more important than looking cool or having a rebellious identity. We don’t have to wear it on our chests, but respecting and standing by our native identity is perhaps all it takes. We’re not to be designated as the ‘protectors’ of the truth that has defined this land and we do not have to behead the ones that criticise it. Belief and reverence are all that this way of life has taken to stand tall to this day; and that’s all we’ll need to do.