Home  |  Contact  |  Bio  |  Interview  |  Essays  |  Latest Books  | Past Books  |  Buy Books


A prominent and important politician declared some time ago that the Babari Masjid was a ‘symbol of slavery’ and it ought to be removed or relocated from its present site just as the statues of Queen Victoria and other foreign dignitaries have been removed from prominent places in independent India. Another well known journalist recently suggested that just as the postwar German government apologized for Hitler’s atrocities on the Jews the present generation of Indian Muslims owe an apology for the atrocities perpetrated by the fathers and uncles of the present generation of Indian Muslims, up to a man, had voted for the Muslim League, i.e. the creation of Pakistan, the present generation Muslims have no moral right to seek the protection of their rights under the Indian constitution. Another thesis is that India is the Hindu Rashtra and Hindu Rashtra is India. The propounders of the equation unceremoniously reject the clearly composite character of Indian culture as it has evolved over the centuries. They thus, turn the unquestionable centrality of the Hindu stand into a questionable absoluteness.

The people of India are, basically, tolerant and permissive in their religious approach, vitiated though it has been by a rigid caste orientation. Unfortunately, the focus of the political agenda today has shifted to the Mandir issue which is polarizing the Hindu and Muslim segments of our people, and the Mandal issue which is intensifying caste fissures, while issues concerned with nation building and the quality of life stand sidelined. The promoters of a hate campaign against the Muslims or against ‘pseudo-secularists’ are ignoring the long term effect of displacing liberal Indian nationalism by aggressive Hindu nationalism. This strategy assumes that promoting the welfare of the Hindus (comprising 85% of the Indian people) must, of necessity, promote national welfare. The reality is, however, much more complex. Any policy which is perceived by any sizeable section of our people as opposed to natural justice and human rights will, inevitably, prompt them to fight for their due rights under the Indian constitution. This, in turn, will generate internal friction and conflict. And, surely, forcible removal in the 20th century of any place of worship existing for the past 500 years is bound to be perceived by the affected persons (as well as by all reasonable persons irrespective of religion or nationality) as an attack upon fundamental human rights, irrespective of where the truth might lie concerning the Janmbhumi controversy.

Notwithstanding the occasional reassurances from some of the top BJP leaders that Muslims have nothing to fear from the Hindu side, once the Ram temple is constructed on the desired site, Muslims today, quite understandably, feel gravely threatened and insecure. A very substantial section of the Hindus, both politicians and ordinary citizens, are actively and sincerely opposing the threatened violation of fundamental human rights. The tragedy is that the BJP and allies diplomatically project this principled stand as sheer appeasement of the minorities and a ploy to secure the block Muslim vote, while the secular parties level the same charge against the politics of Hindutva in regard to the Hindu voters. Thus the entire nation today stands trapped, as it were, in the vicious circle of charges and counter-charges of political opportunism and appeasement. This vicious circle can be broken only if we all try to understand the basic attitudes and assumptions which generate the politics of unreason and hate.

1. The first basic (unconscious) assumption that does, perhaps, the most harm is that the first and also subsequent attacks by Muslim invaders of India were a confrontation between Islam and Hinduism. The attacks by Muslims were, in reality, nothing different from the numerous earlier migrations, invasions and forays by those in search of greener pastures and greater glory than was possible in their immediate environment. The struggle for power and the rise and fall of different segments or wings of the larger human family are perennial features of the human story. At different periods of time different races or large ethnic groups have experienced a great and overpowering release of onrush of creative energy which has resulted in their territorial and cultural expansion. The actors have varied from period to period, but the rhythm has remained the same. The emergent group sweeps all obstacles in the period of its rise, contributes something or other to the sum total of human civilization and culture and then begins to decline. In the course of time some other wave of human creativity sweeps it aside in the ceaseless flow of the ocean of humanity. The true historian and the humanist rejoice at the creative advance of the human family, though they may justly shed and honest tear at the decay or fall of a kindred or admired individual or group. Jawaharlal Nehru’s work, Glimpses into World History, performs this difficult and delicate task admirably well. But, in general, people tend to become selective in the range of their historical empathy. Thus, the German writer, von Pochhammer, displays commendable empathy for the Indo-Aryans when they invaded the Indus and Ganges valley in approx. 1500 BC and overpowered the local population. But his empathy strangely dries up in the case of the Arab and Turkish invaders who repeated the same exercise in India a few centuries later. The historical phenomenon in both cases was, however, the same.

Historical Perspective and Unreason in Politics
BY Jamal Khwaja

<< BackEssays.htmlArticles_Page.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0

Page: [1] [2] [3]

Page: [1] [2] [3]