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The Truth About Us

(Picture Courtesy: AP Photo/Gautam Singh, originally from Boston.com) 

By Align India Editors

The term “tolerance” and its antonym “intolerance” has taken centre-stage in each and every public discourse today. So, is it actually, a rise of intolerance that we are witnessing? If you just want to skim the surface, you can say it is. But then, you will have to believe that there was never an “Us vs Them” syndrome in this country. Anyone who knows about the India-Pakistan partition would agree that this “othering” was prevalent even as we saw independent dawns together; we were ready to divide ourselves as soon as we started. We have always been like this only. We have always had social fault lines: castes, religions, languages.

We were never inclusive. We were either cowardly, indifferent, or self-serving, where outsiders were concerned. That is how we got repeatedly taken over. We have never been non-violent. We just like the odds to be stacked in our favour before we attack anyone.

We have never respected women. The idea of women as goddesses was simply to trap them in a fancy idea of themselves as more decent, nurturing, hardworking, and resilient, than men so that men could get away with vile behavior, while women stayed trapped in a fancy ideal.

We have never been spiritual, whatever that means. We have always been superstitious. Which means we would do whatever it took to ward off ‘evil’ and invite good fortune. Nothing decent, humane, or ethical about that. Pure selfishness dressed as religion.

We were never respectful of our surroundings. The caste system made taking care of our surroundings demeaning. Which is why India is so neglected, uncared for and filthy. Our idea of worship is to pollute and destroy our rivers and eco-systems.

We view education simply as a means to earning a good living rather than as a tool to enrich and broaden our minds and help us reach the highest ideals of human thought. That is why in India the Arts and Humanities are looked down upon and Science is celebrated. And we study Science without ever absorbing a scientific temper. It is but a means to an end.

Other human cultures are not perfect. But ours has most, if not all, the flaws of those cultures, and quite a few more that are unique to India.

But lately, what is emerging is the double-pronged deepening of the faultlines of victimhood and entitlement. One set of people are being encouraged to wallow in victimhood whereas another is cheer-led into entitlement. And many times, the borders are blurred: it’s difficult to somehow understand where victimhood ends and entitlement starts. Social groups are being converted into mobs by feeding them on skewed versions of history which aggravate victimhood and fear. Then a sense of privilege is injected into them by emphasizing their strength in number. This is a heady concoction which addles the individual thinking capacity of the group members and the mob acquires a collective mind.

This is what we saw in 1984 in Delhi. For a long time after that, we didn’t witness this in such a large scale till Advani resurrected it in 1992 in Ayodhya. Modi used the same formula in 2002 in Gujarat. Then, we saw it being brought to life in Dadri . These are just to name a few.

So, if these social faultlines have always been there among us, what is causing this sudden upheaval? It is being caused by the political class and the compulsion to political correctness by the intelligentsia and the media. When a faultline like Khaps in Haryana, were used by all political parties alike, to keep their vote-bank from leaking and the media/intelligentsia stays mum because of it’s political leaning, we are sitting on a volcano, waiting to erupt. If Raja Ram Mohan Roy had worried about political correctness, we would have kept burning women on pyres for a much longer time. Political parties need to stop using these faultlines to their near-sighted benefits. We need to rise up beyond our political leanings and start calling an axe an axe. That is what will keep us as a democracy and stop us from falling over into the pit of mobocracy.

(Align India helps you dismantle propaganda piece-by-piece so that Indian democracy stays alive. The deafening din of bigotry and jingoism has made us forget Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Shastri, and scores of other leaders who built India based on the values of peace and ethics, standing up for the downtrodden and the voiceless. Our effort is aimed at reviving these core values as enshrined in the Constitution of India while fiercely protecting the diversity which defines the idea of India.)

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