Sunday, November 8, 2009

Minority Issues

Harsh Mander's columns have always touched me, in different ways though. Last week after reading To be a Muslim in India today, I was really dumbstruck. Yes, I had heard of it many times over. Ever since the Gujarat episode happened, stories have been spreading like wildfire; some so cruel and some so horrible that it would put the Indian Justice system to shame and pity, for having overlooked all these. Anyways, the intent here is not to comment on the episode or on the Judiciary. We'll leave that for a later time.

Coming back to Harsh Mander and his columns; last week made me think and ask - really?? Is this really happening? The author was trying to showcase how hard life for a Muslim is in India. Being one myself, I never experienced a semblance of what was being said. Nowhere was I detained on account of my faith. Never was I taken to task for wanting to practice my religion. Perhaps the fact that the time I have spent here, which by the way is less than a decade is very limited. But then I did apply for Government license; I did get my passport renewed; I did pay my bills; in all the interactions with the government machinery, never did I experience anything connected to faith. Of course I did encounter the corruption web, but lets just put that aside for now since it has nothing to do with your background. So I guess it was natural that I was angry at the author for having portrayed the negative side with such exaggeration. I even wanted to pen my thoughts, but somehow never completed the post.

Today, after reading The end of One Life I was left wondering again. I decided to check out something about the author. After reading his profile, my opinions changed. This man has definitely seen life. Much much more than me. And in his various capacities, he surely has seen things from a closer quarter. Yes, I had read about the news of the fake encounter. That a routine investigative report of one judicial magistrate caused so much uproar did make headlines in our catchy Media. But after reading it today, some disturbing thoughts crossed my mind. Not any revolutionary thoughts, just a worry about the callous state of our Judiciary and the entire democratic set up that we boast of. Once the state machinery starts abusing their powers, manipulating and exploiting the system to further different causes, chaos is almost sure to prevail.

Our country has different angles to it. We have Kashmir at the north, Arunachal and Assam and its likes in the east, Gujarat and Maharashtra on the west and the southern states which are each different from the other. By angles I mean the issues afflicting each of these. In kashmir its been since the inception of the state. Much have been written and debated about it by now, the only thing missing being the elusive peace. In our eastern states, its naxalism in its various forms manifesting itself. The Assamese obstructing to people of other ethnicities coming to their place and stealing their piece of the pie; a concern so vehemently propagated by our western leaders (India's west - of course you know whom i am referring to). In south, its opportunism in its truest form; our southern leaders are yet to come in terms with each other - whether its the krishna river or the Mullaperiyar dam, roadblocks have always been there. The central theme I am trying to build is that in each of these cases, there is a common thread that runs among all - Minorities issues not getting addressed. Our honorable leaders are so really eager to take political mileage out of it. Whether shouting for language or for reservations on caste, they have been voicing their concerns in different forums. And of course, the heartless attempts they try to spark only ensure their political gain not societal calm. The unrest and agitation only leads to commotion and mayhem resulting in violence and bloodshed. Of late the issue of naxalism is gaining much of media's attention. P.C is trying out every effort to get them to the tables but with little success.

One is tempted to ask- Is this all really necessary? The time that we spent here, 60 or 70, can't we use it to better the world around? or at least stay away from harming others? I strongly feel that the fabric of any civilized society lies in its justice system. The moment people lose faith in the justice delivery system, anarchy would be the result. Our Judicial statistics do not befit a mention anywhere. It has been our culture that has bonded us well in spite of our differences. Tolerance was at the heart of our foundations. We have had some exemplary leaders too propping out every now and then. But of late, our leaders have been trying hard to disrupt this. By overemphasizing on trivialities, they have managed to gain some fanatic loyalists. Good governance has taken a backseat; peace is the last thing that is desired. In the past few years, in our iconic rise as an economic power, the cries of the unheard have been conveniently ignored. Every now and then there is a wake up call. But we do not seem to have much listeners.

Every democracy is self limiting. Self limiting coz its by our own choice that we bring on our doom. For better sense to prevail, we need informed citizens. More importantly, citizens who does not get conned into the hate campaign of leaders. And make wise decisions about who will rule over us. Genuine concerns when left unattended to can cause a hurricane in due course of time. Far too many youths are available for easy use to shrewd leaders looking to maximize on every opportunity available. If on the other hand, these energies are put to constructive use, it would result in wholesome growth and wide spread prosperity.

But for all this to happen, we need leaders. We need our democratic system to produce able and enthusiastic leaders who are willing to genuinely help. Of course we cant expect angelic souls, but at least we need good people. Not the kind who desert their people in times of trouble. Not the kind who kindle the hearts to cause further friction between people. Not the kind who employ cheap vote winning tactics. And lastly not the kind who turn a blind eye to the minorities simply on account of their inability to cause them electoral damage.

I end by praying for sanity to prevail over vanity.