Food For Thought by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (August 25, 2014)
Over the last several days I was so deeply pre-occupied with other concerns that I could not find time to write this column. Now that I am visiting this space, I have to refer to pronouncements by the President of India, the UPA chairperson, and the RSS supremo, which are related to issues of nationhood and the safety and integrity of the nation.
Over three consecutive days, the UPA chairperson, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi drew the attention of the nation towards a campaign of intolerance by BJP against the Muslim minority across several states. That is a fact which everyone notices, but does not dare to mention it publicly. Such a campaign is being run to polarise the country for electoral purposes. We all know who benefits electorally from such a campaign. We appreciate the UPA chairperson’s daring to draw the country’s attention towards this destructive politics.
Similar concern was expressed by UPA vice president Rahul Gandhi in a parliamentary debate. He said such tactic of creating animosity between different Indian communities could destroy the very foundations of our nationhood.
Earlier, I had drawn the attention of our political leaders towards the need for reaching an all-party consensus on avoiding the politics of communal hatred and violence. Our political parties must make sure that none of them is allowed to cash in on the politics of hate. Such a consensus is essential for the integrity and prosperity of the country.
The same idea was floated by the President of India, Pranab Mukherji, when he remarked that a “slow-drip poison of bigotry” was being administered to the country’s population for political ends. Naturally, this practice has to stop in the interest of the country’s integrity. We are yet to initiate steps to stop it.
The last remark I would refer to was made by the RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat. He said something to the effect that India is a Hindu Rashtra and Indians are Hindus. This meant a denial of the contribution of Indians of non-Hindu faiths to the country’s rich civilisational heritage. This also meant denial of their existence.
This statement was rightly criticised by several prominent people in society and in media as an exclusionary vision driven by majoritarian hubris. The widely accepted legal, constitutional and societal position is that our nationhood is not dependent on our religious allegiance, but on our common citizenship, like the United States and other Western nations. This is the position we hold.
These are related issues and at the heart of it is the concerted effort to polarise the country against which the President and the UPA Chairperson has warned us. This is food for thought for all Indians.