Who would not like to hear what any Indian President or Prime Minister has ever said in praise of our traditions of tolerance, diversity , freedom of thought , faith, belief and worship ? I love this . Last week President Pranab Mukherjee said at an international conference: "We are today witnessing events without precedent; when the world is struggling to deal with the worst impulses of intolerance and hatred that mankind has ever witnessed. ..At such a time, there can be no better recourse than to remind ourselves of the high values, written and unwritten samskaras (tradition), duties and the way of life that is the essence of India."
The President stressed: "This is the time to reinforce the civilisational values that bind together the complex diversity of modern-day India and promote them among our people and the world". (http://www.thestatesman.com/news/india/president-repeats-message-of-tolerance/105470.html[thestatesman.com]). Recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said , "India is full of diversity” and referred to Kabir and Rahim as India’s " inspirations."
I, however, don’t take pride in such words . I am rather ashamed the realities on the ground are so ugly ? In the recent decades our successive political leaderships have by and large failed to virtually assert and ensure the values of diversity, pluralism and tolerance. As a result we have witnessed an increasing polarization in our society along the designs of sectarian, casteist and intellectual mafias . This has resulted in so much of violence across the country.
The polarization of our society along communal lines disturbs me most right now. Communalism causes greater violence in our society. It creates space for terrorism which has already claimed more than 1,50000 lives so far. According to a recent Home Ministry report (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/300-cases-of-communal-violence-in-four-months/article7904417.ece ), in the past four months alone India has witnessed 300 incidents of communal violence that claimed 35 lives . In the entire year till October, 630 incidents were reported and 86 persons lost their lives. In 2013 823 such incidents were reported . In 2014 the figure stood at 644.
The report says that in 2015 there were “two important communal incidents” — at Atali in Faridabad, Haryana (feud over construction of a place of worship) and Bisahda, Dadri, Uttar Pradesh (when 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaque was killed by a mob over rumours that beef was stored in his fridge). The report adds there were “disputes pertaining to religious issues, including processions and over alleged objectionable portrayal of religion/religious symbol on social media, gender- related issues, land and property disputes, political rivalry and miscellaneous issues like road rage, personal enmity and financial disputes.”
What a shame ! We all know how a handful of political crooks within our different religious communities engineer communal violence . We all know that some so-called intellectuals and clerics have been accomplices in this evil game . Together with their political masters, they give communal interpretations even to day-to day problems and fuel an environment of hatred and violence among different communities .
Can’t we fight this evil ? I think an ever-vigilant civil society of enlightened think tanks, non-governmental organizations and intellectuals can expose the evil and rein in any erring government . What do you think ? And yes, please don’t teach me we should not be critical of ourselves, for it tarnishes our image abroad. I would retort : you can’t hide yourself anymore. Technology is already watching . And what do you think foreigners are fools ?