By Ananya S Guha
The election results in Uttar Pradesh and other states have disillusioned many who speak of progressiveness and who believe that rightist forces are inimical to secularism.
It’s true that the ruling party, inspired by the RSS ideology, have been trying to build a monolithic culture and even religion. But a Prime Minister has to rule a country as diverse as India. He and his colleagues are very aware of such historical realities and diversities, coupled with linguistic differences, hundreds of non scheduled languages which make up cultural zones, if not units. The microcosm is as significant as the macro concept of India or Bharat Varsha. Any Indian politician knows this truth.
So those who bewail of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) inching itself to stability in the centre as well as the states, should also remind themselves that this has been happening because of earlier incumbencies and rampant corruption, insensitivity to the poor and the neglected. They will also have to reckon with the fact that the tirade against black money is a symbolic attack on all hoarders, who have crowned themselves with ill-gotten wealth, while others have toiled laboriously to pay taxes.
A lot is being made out about Muslims voting for the ruling party. This sadly enough is based on the premise that Muslims are enemies of the rest and vice versa. Indian Muslims are Indians and they have contributed to the country in the arena of sports, cinema, literature, and politics. Moreover, positively speaking, this is their way of reiterating time and again that they are Indians first and foremost. We must cash in on this ‘loyalty’. Moreover, in states like Uttar Pradesh, Hindus and Muslims have lived for centuries leading to cultural and even religious assimilation, which is popularly called the Ganga-Jamuna Tahzeeb.
The country is one, despite diversities. But diversities cannot be ignored. They constitute the vast edifice upon which the country is built. Talking about ancient heritage is true, but the diverse realities are also true. They complement one another in terms of pluralism and mosaic of cultures. As long as we abide by these in principle, it does not matter which political ideology we subscribe to, maintaining diversity and oneness simultaneously.
Those who believe that the entire vision of a country will be reworked under a strong central government must wait and watch. Legerdemain has always been chants of the ruling party and political parties in general. The idea is to give space to all communities, castes, and religious groups in the country and rediscover their plurality and Indianness, which includes the majority Hindus. They have to realise the inclusiveness of the country and that we all live on a shared basis, in this great country. Rabid beliefs will not do. Similarly the others must reciprocate tolerance.
It is the marginalised, the poor, and the destitute, who are the teeming masses of the country. They may speak in their own language or dialect but their idea of India, their country is distinct and clear. As an electorate, they are sensible and intelligent. They know whom to throw out and when.
There is nothing to lose heart if we cling to our plural vision of the country, do our work, and uphold its manifold integrity. What we have to be aware of is politicians making capital out of religion, language or culture. Peace is what the average Indian wants, in addition to his daily bread.
There are agendas taken up by the present Prime Minister which are pro poor. They have to be given a chance. He should know that talk about culture and religion cannot take a backseat in a poverty driven situation. The common man only knows this too well.
The English speaking elite and the Hindi speaking intelligentsia are divided. They have to resolve differences and speak up for a unified vision of the country, whether they call it Bharat Varsha or India. We cannot quibble about homogeneity or heterogeinity. The task is to uphold an integral value system, politically, socially or culturally, which the country represents. Only that can save it.
As for the debate between right and left, all Indian political and social stakeholders, irrespective of political affinities, must understand that terrorist forces are out to divide the country, if not the world, and this alarm has to be raised, without jumping to inane conclusions that all Indian Muslims are pro Pakistani or are in solidarity with the ISIS. These and other unfounded allegations hurt sentiments and further divide societies and push people to the wall.
It is high time to build societies within a pan Indian context and restoring the belief in a strong India rooted in the past, present, and future. Only then can sanity and love prevail, not rancorous views, hegemony of patriarchy, and monolithic cultures. The mainstream and the sub-streams must merge into an expansive trust keeping in view our future destinies. This is the India we long for and should strive to attain in our day to day personal lives.
Ananya S Guha is Regional Director, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Shillong.
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