« »

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Hard-line ideology cannot succeed in a secular India

Criticizing the Muslims against singing India’s national song ‘Vande Mataram’ (Mother, I bow to thee), Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was quoted as saying that those who oppose the song should go to Pakistan or Bangladesh. He said: “If you don’t want to salute the motherland, then whom do you salute? What is the shame in saluting Bharatmata? There is no place for such traitors in India.”
This harsh statement from an extremist politician fuelled a political row in the country. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has called Muslims who are against the recital of ‘Vande Mataram’ as “anti-nationals”. Shiv Sena suggested that the tongues of those opposed to the national song should be chopped off while the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) staged a sit-in and threatened a bigger agitation.
Those who think it is logical to call the citizens anti-nationals and traitors on refusing to recite the national song (which is not even the national anthem), they should certainly define the criteria of patriotism. And it should be clearly and justly defined as to how come those who choose not to recite India’s national song are “unpatriotic”, and hence, should leave the country.
The preamble of the Indian constitution defines India as a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic. Hence, the Indian Constitution has provided space for each and every community to bond to its religious beliefs. A recognized concept of secularism says that government or other entities should exist separately from religion and/or religious beliefs in a secular country. Any community has the right to support its faith, and to impose upon them any type of worship contrary to their belief is against secularism and freedom of faith.
In this sensitive issue of accepting or rejecting a national song, with which there are also religious sentiments attached for some people, the flames of verbal abuses will only generate the fire of rage.
Certainly, it was a dead issue and the song had been made more acceptable by adopting only its first two stanzas, which do not conflict with religious principles. However, it is against the nature of democracy for leaders to criticize those who peacefully express their opinion, especially, when the song has been historically controversial.
Indeed, the first two stanzas of the song began with an evocation of the beauty of the motherland; but it was likened to the Hindu goddess in the later stanzas. In that case, to question the loyalty of Indian Muslims on the ground that they rejected the original concept of song to worship the motherland is agitating. Respecting the religious sentiments of each and every community is the binding force of a secular society. These typical matters of religious sentiments cannot be solved by enforcement and threatens a democratic system. They should be left discretionary as a middle ground.
I am not debating if the recital of ‘Vande Mataram’ is Islamic or un-Islamic, but am talking about extremism in India from a neutral point of view.
By giving an aggressive statement to throw out to Pakistan all those who disapprove Vande Mataram, a hard-line ideology is expressed once more that says only Hindus should reside within India and the minorities should either come into the Hindu fold or be eliminated.
However, the Hindu extremist ideology is rejected by the majority of Indians. It was evident in the two successive, embarrassing and shocking defeats of the BJP in the 2004 and 2009 general elections, as well as the recent three state assembly elections, after which the hopes of Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and other minorities in the country abounded.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said during his swearing in ceremony in May 2004 that the mandate for the Congress-led UPA was for change and “strengthening the secular foundation of our republic.” It is the responsibility of the government to work honestly and wisely to protect all minorities, particularly when the threat of more new dangerous Hindu extremist groups has emerged in India. The Times of India daily quoted V.N. Deshmukh, former joint director of India’s Intelligence Bureau, as saying on Oct. 21 that: “The hard-liners are now getting into more extreme activities. Most RSS cadres were mobilized with an ideology that called for elimination of minorities, mainly Muslims and Christians.”
BJP should not continue to be vindictive towards the minorities by associating with the extremist groups. The Hindu extremist ideology is losing significance in Indian politics. BJP should distance itself from the hard-line ideology by turning to moderation. It should concentrate on the outlook of those majorities of the allies in the National Democratic Alliance who are not Hindu nationalists. The party needs a changed structure by departing a section within which wants to create a Hindu nation by violent means. It should include in the party Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsees and other minorities of the country and should give attention to that section of the party which believes in acquiring state power by participating in a parliamentary democracy. The new intelligent generation of Indians values the freedom of an individual and has enough sense to use their vote in a right place to be part of a modern world.
The RSS is the patron organization of all Hindu nationalist groups. If it thinks it can win the polls by its fundamental ideology, then it should enter the democratic process instead of using the BJP for its ambitions.
The RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Abhinav Bharat, Shiv Sena and other fundamentalist organizations are as detested in India as Al-Qaeda is in the world. The dream of the peaceful world cannot come true by allowing the existence of groups like the RSS or Al-Qaeda, which spread hate and terror and violate the values of Human Rights and liberty. Muslims of the world have proved themselves by rejecting Al-Qaeda’s ideology. The time has now come for Hindus to dissociate themselves from this ideology, so that extremists can be isolated. The peace loving and matured citizens of the world have given a thumbs-down to extremism. – SG

No comments:

Post a Comment