Spear for Spear-Vigilante Violence in India
A subtle yet consuming fear has taken place in our hearts since the realization of a propagandist a right winged ideology. Or is it the case of judicial system on the lose; As after swearing-in, there are more than 35 recorded cases of public execution throughout the country. Yet another prospect could be outlandish rigor of masses who irrationally run by the religious code. Individually, above mentioned aspects cannot solidify and give rise to inhumane acts of violence and poorer still, they were justified. Whatever is the drive, it has brought in a nervous chill in minorities as if there were stealth combatants posted in every corner of our streets, as if there is constant unasked moral surveillance, as if their lives are lined with illegality and illegitimacy; as if they’re a mole in the whole system.
As if they do not belong here, in the land of happy-hybrids.
India is one of the most intricate network of cultures, religions, languages and other practices and it has sustained through this complex relationship through the years. We wouldn’t say that cultures have remained harmonious throughout, there are numerous records which describe bloodshed and long drawn wars in the name of cultural/religious dominance; But are we still living in times of war?
Divergent History – A fallacy
Let’s step back a little and observe the timeline in a macro scope. Cause and Effect, leading to the current scenario of communal dispersion. Well, indeed, there are numerous causes to this, but who shall be marked as the parent culprit? The historical Indian Sub-Continent dates back centuries, but politically, India came into existence during the colonial rule. Yes, not after it but during their rule. The British passed the Government of India Act in 1935. This act falsely promised Independence and administrative autonomy to Indians but only as a bipartisan control. Needless to say, the British were always reluctant to give away this precious piece of land. Obviously, it wasn’t easy to give away ‘The golden bird’.
Particularly, British couldn’t conquer just 22 countries out of 200 (then known countries) in their conquests. With favoring circumstances, confidently the British would have acquired the remaining lot. Hoeing through their pattern of political and diplomatic achievements, British successfully controlled nearly 85% of the world. Isn’t the statistic intriguing? Surprisingly, they conquered all this land by a single policy, brutally, ‘Divide and Rule.’
Still, such an achievement looks bizarrely charismatic? There were other pivotal factors as well for such triumphs but divide & rule played the trump card. This policy was utterly simple and often underestimated. Prominently mark ethnic differences and make them fight for internal supremacy while they stealthily took control of the overall system as an Arbitrator. This policy was cake walk for the British but India was thrashed and shattered due to its onset. People were divided on the basis of religion and political boundaries were planned on the basis of language. The divide was tough and so the result was far more chaotic for a sane mind to absorb. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal are classic examples of immense diversity which duly faced traumatic times. The communities here were so strongly rooted to culture that poking into religions turned void. Cultures like Durga Pooja, Chatt Pooja, Kumbh Mela and many other mass programs came into question; By the same people who enjoyed it a while ago.
The British found moles and hence struck right in the center. Hitting religion was like hitting a lottery, in fact, a jackpot. One of the most condemned riot broke in Calcutta known as the Great Calcutta Killings or The Direct-Action Day. An estimate claims almost 20,000 casualties in 4 days from 16th-19th August; 1946. Although this happened much after Independence revolution, the British’s assaults had already sowed seeds for viable hate among the communities. Originally regional wars and conquests were deliberately converted into religious hatred.
As similar riots rose across the nation, even British’s far stretched octopus’ hands started to fail. In parallel, the revolt for independence was already flared and hence British started spilling off the extras. Eventually, they sanctioned to declare India to be a Sovereign Independent Nation in 1948. But widespread instability preponed this treatise decision of Indian Independence a year earlier i.e. August 15th, 1947. Again, as an arbitrator, a settlement was scored at the division of India, primarily on the basis of religion. Alongside, Sir Cyril Radcliffe who was given the task of drawing the final border lines, wrecked another havoc. The border between existing Pakistan and Kashmir wasn’t drawn due to some circumstances. Or maybe a highly tactical move to leave a piece of cheese for two starving mice. And eventually it became a cause for India and Pakistan to fight, perpetually. Similarly, even people belonging to the same ethnicity were divided; Example, Province of Punjab. The state has experienced great turmoil and instability, which directs to the same treacherous manifestation of thought, another mole. Creation of east and west Pakistan; Two parts being so distant that efficient governance was acutely difficult. A collapse and detachment was a predictable future of Pakistan and so it happened in 1984.
These are a few example of intentional segregation created by the British to disrupt the possibility of progress in India then and in future. Given the prediction its period of maturity, British did win. We won’t progress on a global level when we are already fighting among. Question remains; Are we still at war?
Our ethnicity this time!
Well, Ethnic composition of our country portrays a complex imagery of diversity. It’s hilariously interesting how the demographics of our country have unfolded in its approximately 4000 years of recorded history.
Diversity – A precious gem
Prehistorically, out of a total of 6 international ethnic groups, India is constituted with 3 ethnic categories i.e. 72% Indo-Aryans, 25% Dravidians and 3% Mongoloids & other minorities. These are categorized regionally around the world. Indo-Aryans being the earliest (1800BCE) populated northern and central regions. Dravidians, original inhabitants, initially lived across Indus Valley but were later pushed down south. Mongoloids (brachycephalic) from South Africa settled in the south Indian hills. Later, mongoloids spread around in almost all directions and can be found in tribes of present day J&K, North Eastern States, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu etc.
This broad classification further differentiates into religions and mystical practices. As per the census of 2011; Of 1.34 billion people, 79.80% Hindus, 14.23% Muslims, 2.3% Christians, 1.72% Sikhs, 0.70% Buddhists, 0.37% Jains and 0.9% other religions. There is no record of Zoroastrians, tribal religions and other quaint practices which are highly persistent in rural areas.
Complexity furthers due to breakup of religions into castes and creeds. Hinduism further breaks into 4 (Bhramins, Shudras, Shatriyas and Vaishyas) broad categories, Muslims breaks into 2 (Sunnis and Shiyas) sects, Christians diverge into 2 (Catholics & protestants), Sikhs into 3 (Khatris, Khamboj and Jatts) major castes, so on and so forth. Not to mention celestial differences, birth anomalies, occupational differences and varying schools of thoughts (under the same religion) are some undocumented diversities with which our country is blessed.
In Indian context, complexity doesn’t seem to cease, Linguistic difference is yet another membrane of class. As per the eighth schedule of Indian constitution, there are 22 major languages with hundreds of other local and tribal languages.
The lingual divide nearly coincides with the political boundaries i.e. 28 states (now 29) and 7 union territories. Names of some states parallels the lingual system being followed. E.g. Maharashtra – Marathi, Karnataka – Kannadh, Tamil Nadu – Tamil, Gujrat – Gujrati so on. Also, there are regional languages, like Konkani which is found along the stretch of western Ghats. Ethnicity also differ on the dialect and pronunciation; Along the trail from western U.P to eastern U.P, Hindi is the prominent language but way of speaking changes. Punjabi language is found simplified in some regions which parallels with the Hindi language but originally it’s much complex. On a micro level, adjacent villages may also differ in lingual deliveries to some extent due to varying ancestral lineages of people in our country.
The deeper we peak into this perennial sequence of complexity; it doesn’t stop to amaze/puzzle. There are so many layers at each stage which perplexes a normal brain but brings in a feeling of unparalleled joy. It’s the beauty of this country that an individual can experience a blissful wave of culture and tradition. As quoted earlier, in its 4000 years of history, our country has gone through a bewildering maze but still aims at a final destination; A developed country.
But a self-proclaimed utopia invites significant challenges of Sustainability, Equality & Equity, Housing & Healthcare, Education, Food Supply, Environment, Infrastructure, Human Development, Lifestyle; But primarily, Human Rights. Lately, some incidents have incurred severe damages to this beauty in diversity. It seems to be the greatest turmoil in a progressive country, a phase of precedent invocation of diminutive activities leading to cultural disintegration. Minorities and marginalized communities are facing the brunt of some ill-conceived vigilantism in the name of religion. Religion which brings in the concept of peace, concept of passion and the realization of a supreme authority which controls the flow. The mob has taken to streets and projecting events of violence and vandalism only to instill a mark of prominence. The supreme authority, if not the Lord, then there exists a judicial code of conduct which condemns such acts of violence against fellow humans. India which has always held an identity of cultural stability and harmony is now jeopardized and on the brink of colossal collapse. Hatred is brewing and brimming among Indians, there is a rage to forcefully acquire one’s place in the country. To say there weren’t cases of communal violence before this ruling party would be naive but to realize the source of hatred is incremental movement. Hatred is like a drug, like caffeine and nicotine, not harmful initially but it makes its space inside the system. It grows its appetite, it conditions the system accordingly to accommodate the rising quantum and then takes over completely. Even the voluntary functions are governed by them, even our gifted consciousness loses over our manipulated system. There has been an evident increase in vigilantism in the last five years, but is the government hideously supporting it or has the mob turned off their brains?
This doesn’t seem just political; this hatred begins right in the roots of our daily livelihoods. Have we not heard our parents curse the other community? Have we not ever discriminated a friend of different religion in conversations adhering to our religion, even with a considerate thought that he/she might not get the theory? Have our religious leaders never compared our practice with others? Even the film industry plays an important role in influencing people against a particular religion or caste. Teachers in our schools, our mentors, our bosses; Have these role models never set a prerequisite based on religions or religious practice? There will never come a time with zero differences among ethnicity but to boil down to executing a fellow human in the name of religion, it seems insane. No religion has ever asked us to kill, it commands us to be peaceful. Religion is the noblest business; Recall times spent in charity, selfless efforts in devotion to achieve benevolence of the Lord, honest sessions of our soul’s appraisal and eventually, to achieve spiritual and physical nirvana. With such bliss comes our religion, the hope that the Lord sees it all and shall avenge if the victim fails. The hope of nirvana abridging the earth and the greatest heavens lies in our choices we make for our fellow humans. But just like nicotine, petty yet fake notion of a small religious credential has paved a path for a greater catastrophe, a cancer filled with hatred.
Faltered is the government; It’s easy to stand by this statement but we are equally responsible for creating a divide in our country. It’s a harsh reality and we must accept it, only then can there be a place for true redemption. We are being played but we are confident enough to bend the course of this wave of hatred.
Moreover, the government is efficiently pawning this institutionalized culture and pivoting the majority over minorities. A pseudo force which has now unearthed, gigantic and gruesome. Groups are being fed information of hatred, self-proclaimed social workers who are tactically planning incidents of public assault and inadvertent execution. To add to the flare, social media is acting as a catalyst in spreading harsh emotions. And then to further add to our agony, nearly 75% of this feed is absorbed by teenagers and youthful citizens. We wonder, in fear, Is this the right direction? A documentary video by the media channel ‘The Quint’, named as “The making of a Gow Rakshak” clearly shows signs of hatred and planned assault.
Million-dollar questions are; Can we really stop ourselves in indulging in hatred and behave as humans at first? Can we become more accepting and less radicalizing? Can we set aside our hardened principals while in a crowd? Can we be humans before being Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains etc?
Is it too difficult to bring in some tolerance and acceptability for the person standing across? We believe it isn’t!
While we are being arrogant for other communities, India celebrates a National Unity Day on 31st October every year commemorating the memory of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel who is also known as the Bismarck of India (He helped in consolidating the Indian states during 1947-1949). There are numerous days whose relevance is much higher than individual religious practice. Independence Day (15th August), Republic Day (26th January), Children’s Day (14th November), National Youth Day (12th January), National Sports Day (29th August) and so many others which must compel us to get out and spread a positive patriotic message.
Schools and institutions are the best examples for events of communal harmony. For decades, we have celebrated children’s day in a blissful unison, a communion of all ethnicities just celebrating childhood and its innocent cuteness. The morning assemblies where the National Anthem is impartially sung in a beautiful sync every single day for years and years. Hundreds of students applauding for the unfolding flag and falling petals on Independence day. Yes, we have experienced it all and it was unquestionably beautiful, delightful and a cherishing memory. The celebration of festivals; Color splashes on Holy, Firework shows before Diwali, fantastic Rakhi making competitions, taste nourishment therapy on Eid with delicacies etc are some of the common events which we have all shared. We are never regretful about it and we never speak ill of it. Those memories are chaste and sacred, we smile within and cherish continuously.
So were we not religious while we were children? Or have we grown with our religious practices turning hostile and unaccepting? But wait! Religion doesn’t change. It’s the same text, the same verses and same stories which we undeniably absorbed in our childhood. With age and maturity, we must’ve have been able to comprehend the texts better, to read beyond words and seek applications of holy practices in our contemporary lives. Religion has given us myriad dreams and fantasies to imagine and then the faith for it to be true. Levitation of the prophet to the skies, Resurrection of Jesus, Construction of a bridge of floating stones on sea between India and Lanka, Parting of fierce waters for Moses’s ship to cross etc. are all stories of spiritual exercise. To become better, to become humble, to practice chastity, to be humane. Religion has the capability to form avatars and then rule our mind, sometimes clouding our conscience for justifications in times of confusion. But in times of confusion, the moral compass shall not hinder; North always points up, to improvement.
Even after getting out of school, the strive for improvement should not die. Can we mend our compasses and tread in the same direction we did years ago while in school? Can we remain the same? Innocent, cute, accepting and embracing. If only we could, we can tap at one of the largest and potent sphere of enactment. Each year nearly 3 Million students (3.1 million in 2019) appear in class XII boards exams and with a qualifying percentage of approximately 80%, we are still left with 2.4 million ethically sound individuals who can bring a positive change in the society. But in scenario like India, numbers and statistics are superficial and may seem Utopian if but only a small percentage could work to bring a change, it will be substantial to shake down this brutal hegemony.
We have immensely sincere hopes from the youth population of this country. Youth has a majority and have the ability to cut down fascist and damaging regimes of fellows and government. The youth must consider it as their individual responsibility to at least provoke an idea of humanity among other fellow citizens. The freedom of choice is such an aspiring blessing to us humans but we constantly crib for unjust situations. Choice has always been ours!
“It is the ability to choose which makes us Humans”, Madeleine L’Engle.
“My first act of free will is to first believe in free will”, William Jones.
Free will, right to choose and the power to side is how the humanity functions. Bold move is to actually contemplate our decisions on the side we set out feet. The choices we make, our actions of humility or hostility, our conduct for this humanity; Our role in this whole system. The Lord blessed us with a conscience, a tool so powerful that it has abilities beyond our imagination. This conscience gives us free will which further enables us to make decisive moves. As youthful citizens we believe that we are encircled with bright minds and a rational population. No matter which religion we belong to, in their languages; Humanity overrules all hatred and violence.
Demographic dividend of the country is an analysis of population against their age and employment. It is a co-relational study which tells us the division of people in age groups and working potential of populace. Fortunately, India till now has the largest youth population and estimated median age by 2020 will be just 28 years. Compared to other developed nations like China and US (37 years), Western Europe (45 years) and Japan (49 years); People in these countries are ageing while Indians are still young and shall remain to stay younger than others for quite some time, decades maybe! An organization, Bloomberg News Analysis has studied the population split of our country and has predicted that by 2027, India will have more than 1 billion people within the working age bracket i.e. 15-64 years of age.
But have you ever seen elderlies and teenagers waging a war? Formal group is too fragile to uphold the responsibilities and the latter group is too consumed to consider this vague opportunity of redemption and control. The elderlies may become think tanks and lay all the vagaries of play but generally both these age groups are rendered useless when it comes to active participation and execution of plan on ground. Bracket of age which is actively seen sloganeering on streets and forming processions is none other but the bracket of youth. The population eligible for higher studies, population which should be handling the corporate sessions, people potent enough to drive lucrative changes in the market, people of wit, people of desire, people of love!
Lately, the trend has bended towards marches and protests for illogical ideas. Protests inclined for political gains or to sustain a conceptual model of dominance in the society. The youth needs to decide the side they want to rest with; Endure. What matters is the urge; urge for sustainability, urge for stability, urge for a loving and peaceful environment, urge for environment indeed, urge for inclusivity and much more up to the extent of our mind’s realization. What matters is the priority. The dire need to channelize ourselves into a proliferate group, consolidate this huge work force in the direction of progress and not demise.
“He who is of calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age but to him who is an opposite disposition, youth and age are equally a burden.” - Plato
“The youth need to be enabled to become job generators and not job seekers.” – Late Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam
Both the quotations serve the context, brings in mind our shallow pleasures of youth while embeds the intrigue of responsibility. We grow up to drive a positive force along with our motion. An impression on the society and an impression on our family. We become role models of our children. We then become the flag bearers of our society. A legitimate holder of legacy and then we seek a candidate who can best serve the purpose of lightning the path to exuberance and a conceptual utopia. We line the walls of our utopia ourselves. We are no less than a mystic power.
Utopian - Dystopia
There isn’t a world of all bliss and it is a quaint minuscule possibility of this to ever happen. The world functions in a whimsical mix of movement and stability and the ardor doesn’t conclude; Will never conclude. The charm of this world is dynamic, the continuous excitement of the next moment, an ambitious scenery painted with laughter and cries. This is certain, that stagnation is not an offer in this world as it is bound to move. On the contrary, mobility does not necessarily require crushing down things in your path. Why can’t we take along our neighbors, our friends, our family, OUR PEOPLE?
We all need to ask this question to ourselves, “What will I do if I do what I will?”
God certainly gave us free will and we adorn it ecstatically but what about toxic mental vibes which are diminishing. God also gave us fundamentals of life which are direct and clear, but the evil seems more convincing than the Lord itself and pulls us into a dungeon of hopelessness and distraught. We are staggeringly comfortable to curse, pulling down the skies, crashing down upon the whole of humanity; Paranoia of Isolation, Anxiety for Differences, Distress of Detachment and Bequeathed Belongingness. These phases may sound alien but fit them in the frame of discord which our country is facing these days. Our manifestation of our beliefs have thrown us into a void, we are relentless enough to grab someone by their throat and question their existence. Out of order, we are draining people of their emotions, we are now seeking refuge in their agony and there isn’t a time farther when we’ll laugh perpetually to look at a human being slayed. The paradox is, humans were killed for entertainment in prehistoric times. It was 264BC i.e. 2283 years ago, when the first gladiator games were played in the cattle market under the command of Decimus Iunius Brutus Scaeva. Today, we are justifying public executions under the concept of preservation of culture, tomorrow we may begin to enjoy it. And if viral videos of sensitive content online are a new dogma, then we’ve already started enjoying it! Time demands a self-introspection; in this race, are we moving ahead or we are sprinting backwards?
Holding on to our cultural roots is not fixation. India was able to fight back colonial control only because of its cultural aesthetic, but now there is intolerance, and there is plenty of it. A country which is concerned about the place of a basil sapling, is concerned about place of toilet in the house, is concerned about the direction of their feet during sleep, is deeply concerned about body’s orientation after death. Meanwhile, it seems, we are least concerned about the people living around us. We are comfortable in forcing them out of their own land, we are happy to mock them for their origins, we are proud to call ourselves pure bloods and disgustingly, we are happy to carry this afar. In the times of movement, we are standing still. We don’t talk of science and the celestial possibilities, we don’t talk about growth but superstitions, we don’t run an extra mile to reach out for something seemingly far, we are Indians; We like stability. We are Indians and our platter is full of prejudices and we eat it full. Certain practices and beliefs, are ingrained in our minds since our childhood but it is never taught, it is fed like air in an incubator. For every individual, stories are full up till their peaking bosoms, like a stiff air filled balloon. A provocative prick and boom!
And if we are calling ourselves Indian, we are wise enough to reason what we believe. To read before we speak. To feel to endure before pressing. To bury specks of intolerance, and hug so tight that two souls can become one. To be concerned about being a human than just a human being. We are people of this land, with great respect and fervor; We all are able to be possessive and passionate for this nation. As people of the same land sharing a sense of belongingness and love, we are responsible to care for the love of our farthest kin. Also, to question an ideology shall not be the path but to humanly consider the other person as akin; is noble. Respecting your friends and their thoughts, bringing in the idea of question and discussion, to be mature enough to listen and then wise enough to let go of hatred.
This beautiful country is one in a million, we cannot let it go! We should not let it go!
At last a beautiful dialogue to ponder upon. Have a look.