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Dadri : An introspection

Koral Dasgupta @KoralDasgupta

Updated: October 13, 2015, 12:31 PM IST
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Often when people heard the first name of my husband they asked, “Is he a Muslim?” Each time I smiled and asked back, “Does it make any difference?” Suddenly realising how I have taken the question, the intruders backed out with a reassuring gesture which meant – of course not. But the truth showed on their face. It does. It makes a huge difference. They were either gearing up to express their secular world - view and congratulate me for the “brave” decision, given that I am a Dasgupta – an obvious Bengali Hindu; or they were in the mood to ask how I must have battled my relationship through the two families united with matrimony; or they would have simply avoided me to avoid anything further on the topic altogether.

This apparently, is our mind-set! To discriminate between religions is a part of our system. Else, I wouldn’t have had to face this question. Two people finding themselves compatible and happy with each other would have been a reason strong enough for marriage. Whether they belonged to two different religions would not encourage a question or make anyone look up, say nice things or spit venom!

Let's face it at the root. Religion is usually an inheritance, unless anyone chooses otherwise. By the sense of inheritance, we love to consider it our property! Just like we have property disputes with siblings and cousins within the family, we fight over religion with your countrymen. Because we have to protect “ours” over “theirs”; because if “they” are allowed more privilege, then they become more powerful than us and start dictating terms. Who started this tug of war is a chicken and egg story. But I can personally assure that Gita or Quran or Bible or any other holy scriptures didn't ever encourage this. Nowhere would you find that Prophet Mohammad had any issues with Krishna; or Guru Nanak has never reportedly frowned at Jesus!

The sad truth is, we read the stories of India-Pakistan-Bangladesh partition in the text books at school, but we aren’t ready to call them history. We love to drag the bitterness in our personal or social lives. Literature, art and culture has showed us the sufferings brought about by Partition and urged us to move on, securing peace. But our efforts to draw boundaries based on caste, creed, gender and religion has been paranormal and that’s where we as a race and civilisation have failed ourselves, by choosing the path of partition over harmony.

Yes, it’s all about the people we are – as individuals, as a society and as a country. It's all about the prejudices deeply embedded within our layers, which at times we don't even realise. When a human being gets lynched over a wrong reason, it is important for us to mention that a Muslim is killed by Hindus over false allegations of cow slaughter! This leaves a scope for us to react with sentences like “Why didn’t media report how a Hindu was killed by a Muslim on so-and-so date” in response, and this is just so unfortunate. The religious offense assumes larger space in our minds than the humanitarian offense. No report or opinion in any form of media has actually paused over this to enforce that the act is a crime in human society and religion comes later! Why? Because unless we have politics involved, our bread doesn’t multiply in the treasuries.

Did I say politics? Fine, let’s look at this now. Most of us are guilty of being pro-Modi/anti-Modi/pro-Kejriwal/anti-Kejriwal/pro-Gandhi/anti-Gandhi! And most of us don’t know these individuals personally, but all of us have grown up on this soil, fed on its growth, shouted “Jai Hind” on Independence and Republic Day. Yet, our support for or against a particular individual or his party or his ideals find greater consideration than our support for this country. We either support or criticise blindly, anything coming from Modi or Kejriwal or Rahul/Sonia Gandhi, self-dedicating ourselves to bashing or uplifting a particular face. Who are these faces for us if India doesn’t benefit under them? Why can’t we be more rational in our outbursts? All I am asking for, is to take a pro-India anti-evil stand! Why can’t we welcome a good move and criticise a bad one irrespective of the party? Probably because we have got politicised even before we realised it.

Dadri, an incident which had disturbed me immensely and got me questioning my pride as an Indian, got me thinking seriously and I felt handcuffed for not being able to force a rational humanitarian revolution. How could those, who once feasted together get one of the mates killed? And how is the Prime Minister silent on such a grave issue? Eventually I realised, that we the educated Indians are responsible for this! It is we who lead our leaders towards unfair means by standing either for them or against them. We haven’t ever made the effort to judge them neutrally. The PM hence has chosen to keep the supporters satisfied with the silence because the offended would probably criticise even if he made a fair statement. By briefly asking citizens to fight against poverty instead of fighting against each other, he managed to pass a fleeting response which is neither aggressive nor passive enough to make a difference.

Democracy is government by the people, for the people; not the other way round. This means that we are not for these leaders but the leaders are for us! We have criticised the Congress for their dynasty reign when individually many of us have believed across the years that doctor’s child must be a doctor. Many of us still express our shock if a doctor’s son chooses to be an ad agency guy. We have called AAP a group of activists; but haven’t we pressured them to rush into mainstream politics expecting them to correct overnight the corrupt practices that has taken years to find a firm ground? We blame BJP leaders for the “Hindutva agendas” they stand for. We forget that the leaders wouldn’t have picked those agendas if we, the people, didn’t have it rooted deep inside us. Political leaders are nothing but catalysts provoking pain in areas that hurt most. Blaming the political parties in fiery social media status updates will only ensure that we sit fitted in our couches at home and sip coffee, while the less privileged get killed/humiliated/insulted irrespective of their inheritance or faith.

We, Indians, have brutally failed in ensuring that our political machineries are directed towards individual and collective development and excellence.

The future lies with us. Me, as the author; and you as the reader. Let’s shift our pain points away from religion, caste, creed, gender! Some time back in Bihar, they started a tradition to use the father’s name as surname so that you are liberated from people judging you based on your caste. Even some people in my matrimonial family, my brother-in-law for example, is known with his father’s name as his last name. The practice is old by a few decades, but I found it just so modern! May be we should also introduce all religious books to all kinds of schools in India. Let the new generation grow up with the knowledge of all scriptures and decide for themselves how their parents and associates have nurtured myopic ideas in their brains and divided themselves meaninglessly.

What I just ranted out though, are social goals which I individually can’t pursue or propagate. What I, in the capacity of a teacher and an author can pursue however, is to try that my students and readers have an open mind which is not biased or politicised. So a few people among us might have the support of an informed and well-meaning citizen, dreaming to usher towards a better India.

What about you?
First Published: October 13, 2015, 12:31 PM IST

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