Why is this state of drift in Indian polity?Why should Union Minister Amit Shah look at the Delhi Assembly contest as between “patriots” and “Shaheen Bagh protestors”?Why should Prime Minister Narendra Modi look at the anti-CAA ShaheenBagh agitation and “display of India Flag and statute as a “deception”to mask the real intent of the Muslim protestors? At one stage, he had hailed Muslims as ‘citizens’ of India. If they are citizens of this country, then they have every right to express their voices of dissent. This is the beauty of Indian democracy. All that is required by the authorities is to reach out to the protestors for a dialogue. I never thought that the heat of the Delhi assembly poll could cloud the common sense and wisdom of our national leaders of substance.I strongly believe that leaders of every political party in India ought to look within, as we are in the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and recall his golden words as expressed in Gandhi’s magazine Harijan written in 1942. Gandhi writes:“Hindustan belongs to all those who are born and bred here and who have no other country to look to. Therefore, it belongs to Parsis, to Indian Christians, Muslims, and other non-Hindus as much as to Hindus.Free India will be no Hindu Raj, it will be Indian Raj, based not onthe majority of any religious sect or community but the representatives of the whole people without distinction of religion”.For Gandhi, building Hindu-Muslim unity was his primary goal. It represented non-violence to him.In contrast to Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence creed, what do we see today? A gun-wielding man opened fire at an anti-CAA rally shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram. Yeh lo Azadi’ slogans. A BJP supporter or did he belong to AAP? I would prefer to cross my fingers at this juncture. There is a lot of mix up of politics and religion right now.The shooting comes in the aftermath of the communally charged and violence-provoking rhetoric by some BJP leaders. Anurag Thakur,Minister of State (Finance), led chants of ‘shoot the traitors’. The chant translates to “shoot down the traitors who betray the country”. Equally disturbing has been Kapil Mishra’s rhetoric.Be that as it may. The ShaheenBagh demonstration is seen today as a“thriving island of secularism” with the potential to inspire citizens of various races and religions across the country. It is a different matter if the Modi establishment sees India with different angularities.
My moot concerns are: where are our leaders going wrong in conducting the country’s affairs? How come this continuous state of drift in running political affairs, especially during the election period? How is it that every party sees things in terms of its short-term vote bank politics? Barring a few exceptions, we hardly see leaders of substance and principles today.I am raising these points as a concerned citizen who is disturbed by too much of political angularities at the operational level. I do not wish to blame any individual or political group for what we have been witnessing during the Delhi assembly poll. At play is competitive negativism. And we know a democratic polity cannot grow on healthy lines in an atmosphere of negativism. The quality of Indian democracy,in fact, cannot be upgraded as long as double standards, hypocrisy anddoublespeak rule the political thinking and action.More than theoretical issues, what is required is a proper understanding of what people want. Unless our understanding reflects the people’s genuine hopes and expectations, they are bound to failIndia as a nation. India cannot be moved by short-cuts and over-simplifications.It is said that clay has a tendency to be moulded, but it requires a potter’s hand to take the desired shape and form. There are, of course, both positive and negative pointers to the polity, depending on how one looks at the image of the nation. Much depends on one’sperspective and attitude to the overall situation prevailing in Delhi.Even negative facets of the polity, for that matter, carry positive elements. Take the current restlessness which manifests itself in hate and divisive politics. What is disquieting in the current situation is India’s democratic institutions have not been able to provide answers to the sort of problems the nation has faced.In this context, I would like to recall certain observations of L M Bookman in his article “Communal Relations and Cultural Integration”(Cohesion Conflicts in Modern India, ed. Giri Raj Gupta. Vikas, New Delhi):
“A shared sense of identity and community, a shared sense of perception of and commitment to a set of over-arching values make cultural integration in a religiously pluralistic society possible.Separate religious affiliation in itself does not preclude cultural integration.“Members of different religious groups do not necessarily adhere to distinct and separate cultural integration in all social situations.It is conceivable that the integrating cultural elements of a ‘common culture’ at all local levels might be extended to larger and larger levels of social organizations in India until an integrated culture emerges."
I envision that national culture is neither Hindu nor Muslim but‘Indian’. I see it as one in which basic differences between Hindusand Muslims are not eliminated, but, at the same time, are no longer used as the basis for social discrimination and confrontation.Of course, as an ancient civilization, we cannot deny the domination of Hindus in the Indian nationhood as a forward-looking modern entity and rooted in the soil and civilisational values of this ancient land.What is needed, therefore, is the evolution of a balanced vision of modern India which should hold all communities together as India’s great intellectual P N Haksar had once put it:“If the post-Independence generation of India could somehow come round of having a vision of India as a whole and relate it to a comprehensive view of inter-relationship between politics, economics, social structure, cultural patterns and value systems, the cloud would begin to disappear.”It is a pity that our thinking shows little signs of change:especially among BJP stalwarts like PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, both from Gujarat, which has gifted us great personalities like Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel.
Well, it is time they looked within and saw for themselves how and where they are going wrong, elections or no elections!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The facts and views expressed in the article are those of the writer.