Are We Moving Towards Massive Civil Strife? Dr.M.Manzoor Alam (MAY 08, 2007)


Are We Moving Towards Massive Civil Strife?

In this first part of a two-part series, Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam takes a look at the socio-political scenario of the country with forebodings of serious trouble ahead.

Silently, slowly, but surely, ominous clouds are gathering over our national life. These are the dark clouds that appear before a storm, in this case a massive civil strife. We would do well to take note of it and act before it is too late.

The recent CD episode in UP is merely a small indicator of what the Sangh and its offspring like BJP have been planning. The CD carried anti-Muslim hate message so clearly and unambiguously that its discovery threw the BJP on the back foot for a while.

The party was so ill at ease with the CD discovery (if we can call it that) that the top leadership feigned ignorance, then passed the buck on to the local leaders. The fact remained that it was not an aberration committed by s

ome small fry, but a deliberate, well-planned strategy which had the blessings of the party president Rajnath Singh and former president L.K. Advani, besides others of course.

Pretending injured innocence, these stalwarts went to Lucknow to "court arrest" protesting against imagined insult to their party by the Election Commission. That these people were frustrated when their gambit failed was obvious from their desperate posturing. They would be happy only if there were massive riots and a wave of collective anti-Muslim hysteria to help them gain majority in the UP Assembly.

That the cynical game did not succeed does not mean that they are not trying hard to create a civil war-like situation. The situation would have been grim enough even if the communal poison introduced by the BJP had not been there. The Sangh is of the opinion that it can indefinitely postpone social justice by drumming up anti-Muslim hysteria.

 They may be partly right, because when the social justice and Dalit emancipation movement of Baba Phule and Bhim Rao Ambedkar got underway in the 1920s the anti-Muslim Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was launched to counter it. Over the last nine decades or so the RSS has grown to be a big tree with at least a 100 branches, including the BJP. But, instead of losing steam, the Dalit movement too has gained ground over the same period.

However, the fact remains that the Sangh has partially succeeded in diverting Dalit energies, at least for a while. It is quite obvious that in times of anti-Muslim hysteria many Dalits tend to forget their own troubles and join the Muslim-baiters. The Sangh has often "experimented" with this strategy. Two major instances of such strategy being put into practice are the reservation movement in Gujarat in the 70s and the Mandal stir of the early 90s. When a caste war over reservation got underway in Gujarat (in the 70s), the Sangh quickly channelised it into a quickly contrived Hindu-Muslim conflict. In the case of Mandal they did the same by starting "Kamandal", a crusade against Muslims over Ayodhya.

The Dalits, Backwards and OBCs may be fooled for a while, but the conflict of interests remains unresolved, and social tensions are aggravated instead of being eased. The CD trickery notwithstanding, caste tensions are bound to escalate with expanding education and growing awareness of the right to social equality and equal economic opportunity. As a result we would have both the communal tension created by the Sangh and social tensions created by generation of wealth and awareness of right to social equality. Put together, they make a lethal mix for India’s integrity.

Then we have regional tensions from Kashmir in the north-west to virtually the whole of north-east. Insurgencies of all stripes are in evidence throughout these regions, although the Sangh is blind to every violent movement except the one with an "Islamic" label on it. The fact, however, is that the scale and spread of the violent movement in which Muslims are involved is much smaller.

One instance is the Naxalite movement in India of which the Sangh seems to be oblivious, although it seems to be extremely concerned about another version of Naxalism, that is, Nepalese Maoism. Whether the Sangh admits it or not, about 170 of India’s 602 districts covering more than a quarter of the country’s land mass have been affected by the Naxalite movement.

Like similar problems anywhere else, Naxalism has arisen out of inequality and an unjust system. Instead of addressing the root causes, officials have tried to curb it with use of force, which has only met with disastrous failure. Others tried to combat it with theatrical counter-measures like "Salwa Judum" (organising untrained tribals and arming them with guns). This led to the massacre of tribals by Naxalites. Naturally, the Salwa Judum idea had to be dropped.

Beneath the obviously calm surface of our daily lives simmer a thousand resentments. Globalisation and unprecedented economic gains of some people are fuelling the anger of the majority who have been left behind. What local resentments can mean was seen recently in West Bengal’s Nandigram village. A Special Economic Zone (SEZ) may be a great idea for the well-to-do, but it can also inflame the passions of the deprived, who may take it as a threat. (To be concluded).g

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