Whenever a Pakistani journalist writes something on India, criticizing logically, common Indians are worried. This phobia was due to the Indian media that twists and turns facts for reporting purpose, the truth is lost in translation, if not transition. Yet, I believed the queries by Tahir Mehdi are in good faith and responded.
In his Dawn article, ‘Three questions from Pakistan that India need to answer‘, Tahir Mehdi explained why he was seeking these clarifications.
His first question was, despite not experiencing the military rule and having robust democratic governments in place, why Indians abhor politicians?
Well, To be truthful, the emergency period when Indira Gandhi ruled India was almost like dictatorship similar to the military rule in Pakistan. Indira didn’t wear Khakis, that’s the difference.
Democracy is where the majority opinion should be counted and acted upon. Unfortunately, immediately after independence, there were complaints to Gandhi ji from regular citizens about the rampant corruption by the then Congress leaders, who just started tasting ‘power’. After nearly thousand years of foreign rule, for the first time, Indians got a chance to govern themselves. And in these years, native culture and values have eroded and in place are a mix of many a contradicting practices and values. The English speaking elite led by Nehru assumed moral high ground over largely uneducated masses. And, they continued British practices of abusing power. Despite the democracy, few families continued to dominate government.
In the land of Karma, only Greed ruled. The set of political leaders were primarily product of freedom movement. And, by size India is large to govern. Nehru, ruling for long at the centre, allowed his party men to establish family rule in provinces and villages. The country became a conglomeration of many small kingdoms controlled by congress leaders. In the name of secularism, minority appeasement flourished, ignoring the majority – in a democracy.
Laws were strict but implementation was loose. Justice system was a slow process. Democratically elected governments misused power. Nearly three generations grew under these circumstances and all they could learn and emulate from the so called leaders was ‘Greed’.
If not for Narasimha Rao, the stranglehold of government over business houses would never have been loosened. This opened up economy and people started investing into themselves. So, one saw much of development in private sphere. Though there was development, again politicians exploited new rules of governance and started doing businesses. If the King becomes businessman, what businessmen should do? So, people abhor politicians.
Observing politicians for long, common citizen started emulating them. So much so that, even Rahul Gandhi, with all his low IQ and established negative leadership and uninspiring qualities is considered a leader by people of intelligence, substantiating the above fact of social depravity.
Coming to the second question, Secularism had been a pretense by Indian governments. If the constitution is secular, why the law is not same for all? The country was ruled for more than sixty years by Congressmen or Socialists. The way democracy works with less voting percentage, who vote en masse decides the ruler. Minority vote banks were groomed over decades showing the bogey of Hindu Nationalist as opposing Muslims.
There were two factors that acted as catalyst for the extreme reactions one may see now and then. One was of course Pakistan. Even before Independence, Muslim aristocrats viewed India as a Hindu nation. When Pakistan became Islamic republic and Hindu minorities started disappearing, the question of Hinduism being the national religion came up. Whether constitution recognizes or not, whether Hindus recognize Hinduism as a religion or not, frequently Indian minorities are reminded that India is a Hindu nation. All the acts of conversion create mistrust in the society and divide it further.
During 70s, it was hard to identify an Indian from his appearance whether he was a Hindu or Muslim. Can one identify religion of Nehru and Jinnah? No. This was applicable even to Pakistan. Has not the appearance of a common Muslim changed over a period of time? Yes. They made themselves more like Arabs, except they couldn’t change the colour of their skin. Islam became a political tool rather than being a religion that connects one with the God. The prime reason was they suddenly got riches from the oil in the middle-east. Saudi donated free money to spread Islam and tightened its grip over Islam. Even in Kashmir, people started donning ‘Khan dress’ a split robe like Rambo.
And, this had a reaction from the majority Hindus. Muslims used to speak in local dialects and follow local customs. Now, everyone had become an Arab. What right any minority preacher got to humiliate Hindus? And all those preachers do so for money. How does a common Hindu feels? The result was a new Hindu who was concerned about his identity. It became a question of survival.
Hindus have their own problems to sort out and settle down and don’t want to waste their time on every trivial thing that is not their concern. If a separate nation was needed to be safe from Hindu domination, why shall be there contacts when there is regular firing at borders?
Though common Indians don’t like the idea of political threats to film producers, they can’t ignore the economic interests displayed by the film fraternity while soldiers are being killed.
Many see the reason propagated for a separate Muslim country as a desperate move by the Muslim aristocrats borne out of collective guilt of their atrocities during the Muslim rule. When some of them could not migrate to Pakistan owing to losing their established wealth and might in India, they remained faithful to Pakistan. This constant interference of Pakistan in Indian affairs increased the gap between both communities, including middle and lower classes over time. Situation is somewhat similar to a divorced wife keeping an eye on erstwhile husband. The obsession towards Kashmir against the accession by the then King and subsequent refusal to honour plebiscite by Pakistan only to rake the issue after decades had changed the attitude of a common Indian towards the neighbour state.
If the neighbour talks about being a religious country and Jihad, this is what happens in the other country. Expecting Indians to ignore what happens in Pakistan is naive. The more Pakistan moves toward Jihad, the more Indian minorities move towards Saudi, more Hindus would become hard-liners. Whether one likes it or not, this was what happened and would happen.
The third question is about reverence to the Army. Well, in all countries army was revered for they were sacrificing their lives for regular citizens. Given the fact that there is no compulsory army training in India, soldiers are seen as voluntarily shouldering the responsibility of guarding the borders. Army remained one of the institutions not touched largely by the social disorder. Of course, there were some films in which few Army officers were shown negatively and there were many films in which Police were shown positively. Normally, it goes with the story and the mood of the nation.
In 70s the dialogue ‘Hum gareeb zaroor hain, par imandar hain’ was a famous one. Well, come to present scenario, this dialogue holds no water, especially after the way Kejriwal tarnished the image of Aam Aadmi.
Well, Islam could well be one of many religions that exist in India. And it was so, for many years after independence. Frustration at being treated as only a vote bank was amplified by the foreign funds and slowly the community changed. With that, even the rest of India changed. Before that extreme thinkers are few in all religions, as they exist in all places and communities. Ultimately, those who played appeasement politics have only succeeded in consolidating the anti-Pakistan group.
It takes strict implementation of democracy and law in true spirit to prevent further polarisation. State being secular, religion should be a private affair. When Muslims compare Hindu practices, what they forget is these are the practices of this land evolved over generations and not adopted from some other country. Whether it is Yoga or Vande Mataram, opposition by Muslims is seen as something that is against to the native culture.
Whether it is for India or Pakistan, discarding local culture and customs and aping foreign practices would never do good, for local practices evolve over millennia. Could the penguins survive in Mumbai zoo, even in an air-conditioned environment?