I know a group of people whose refrain after each series of bomb blasts is “Narendra Modi - that’s what the country needs”.
I strongly disagree with them. The effectiveness of every action should be judged by its long term results. Did the state engineered post- Godhra riots rid Gujarat of terror attacks? Most certainly not. In fact Gujarat, unfortunately, seems to figure on the hit list of terrorists, if one is to go by the turn of events since Godhra.
There was a time when I seriously thought that if BJP could discard communal politics, it would be a welcome change from the Congress which has grown into an effete political force on account of compulsions of coalition politics and appeasement policies. But after the communal riots in Orissa and now Karnataka (BJP ruled states), BJP at the centre is an absolute no no. The BJP ruled states believe in denying space to non majority groups. That denial, it appears, is to be achieved by elimination in installments. Hardly an ideal situation in a pluralistic democracy like India. One does not cease to be an Indian simply because she/he is a Christian or Muslim.
I suppose, in this context, it is necessary to talk about the code of conduct of minorities in a secular political set up. If conversion by allurements by Christian missionaries is practiced, it should be stopped. Gurumurthy recently wrote a piece in The New Indian Express on the Orissa riots, laying all the blame at the door of Christian missionaries who converted the Panas(an SC community) and turned them against the Kandas ( a Scheduled Tribe community) who did not get converted to Christianity. Now, how much of truth there is in this claim is a matter of dispute, for, Gurumurthy has a remarkable capacity of twisting facts and figures out of shape to rationalize his Hindutva agenda (http://pareltank.blogspot.com/2006/12/gurumurthyism.html) . But if we are to give credence to the proverbial wisdom that there is no smoke without fire, this matter needs to be investigated. If there is some truth in what Gurumurthy says – that conversion is setting tribes against each other – the issue needs to be taken seriously and addressed. And addressed by Christian groups who must take a decision not to indulge in unethical conversions by dangling attractive compensations for conversion. So also the Muslim community. The leaders should do some serious thinking on how Islam could be fitted harmoniously into the Indian cultural setting. But, most importantly, the minority groups should not indulge in anything that offends the sensibilities of the majority group. I think the former owes that much to the latter who have been infinitely tolerant of differences. The Minority Rights should not to exercised in any way that is detrimental to the peace and harmony of a secular society
I look back with nostalgia at the days when one did not have to be apologetic about belonging to a minority religion. I’m not talking of some remote past but a past in Kerala, very much present in my memory. On several occasions, I have been embarrassed by my friends whom I knew as my classmates in the seventies, telling me that I survive in India with no rights denied cause of the goodness of Hindus. I do not question this but there was a time when we took each other for granted, never saw ourselves as Hindus or Christians or Muslims but as friends and Indians.
Is it possible to recapture those days? A disease can be rooted out and cured only if the diagnosis is proper. It is imperative that representatives from all creeds in India sit together, admit mistakes, make earnest promises to change and take a solemn oath that “we are Indians first”.
Or India will be broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls.