hidden image

CONQUER HATRED: It is Time to Sit Up and Think Responsibly and Act Maturely

Archbp Thomas Menamparampil Archbp Thomas Menamparampil
20 Jun 2022
Stop Communal Violence

Buried Bombs Explode

Does it do any good planting explosives all around your neighbourhood?  Explosion comes when you least expect it, when you are least prepared. We saw reported, a 2-year old child at Miami (U.S.) shot his father dead the other day, little realizing what he was doing. A loaded gun had been left unattended.

Nupur Sharma may have little realized what she was saying in an agitated moment. She would certainly not have perceived that she was walking over explosives laid by someone else. So with Naveen Jindal. But they are the victims today. Similarly, there are hundreds of thousands in India presently who are carrying round ‘explosives of hatred’ little realizing that what they have in hand are suicide bombs. They may be speaking about mandirs, deities and devotions, but they have been taught to breathe out fire.

Youth are easily drawn onto a path of adventure. Those who exploit this inclination of young people most are unprincipled groups like IS, Taliban, Bajrang Dal and parties that divide society. A brain-washing programme has been going on in India a long time, carefully planned by irresponsible political leaders and idea-shapers over. Talented youth have been educated into hostile thinking in such a way that hate expressions flow from their mouths in a way that one would never expect. Student bodies like ABVP are their active promoters.  

Handing out Poison to the Masses

When the Danish cartoons and Charlie Hebdo Publications in Europe roused global anger for their deliberate belittling of the Prophet, we felt certain that such things would never happen in India despite our differences. Indians have such an inbuilt respect for religious persons and symbolisms that defaming a spiritual figure is a horror to us. But times have been changing. The masses have drunk deep from the draught of poison that their political mentors had brewed for them. The Congress was referring to this when they called the Prime Minister Vish-guru, not Vishwa Guru.

Others refer to Amit Shah going round shouting “Goli Maro” against the so-called ‘traitors’, during Delhi elections. Violence has never ceased since. They refer also to his Bengal trip, threatening to wipe out all Bangladesh immigrants whom he chose to call ‘termites’! Togadia wanted to drown them in the Bay of Bengal! What monstrous images!  When giants roar, echoes alone accomplish what was intended. Violence is outsourced. Vigilantes take over. But when rabble-rousing and gang-engineering games go too far, there comes a response with double energy. The violent ‘fringe’ takes over. Ordinary citizens are mere victims.

Yes, we notice today that animosity is cultivated, hostility is tenderly cared for. Prejudices are planted. They have become ‘normal’, legitimized. Are we to take advice from Islamophobes like Geert Wilders, a well-known Dutch parliamentarian, who urges us to disregard the Arabic ire, Islamic hurt feelings? Are we to ignore the Indian civilizational traditions and global sentiment?  Not only Qatar and Kuwait, but also Indonesia, Turkey, Afghanistan, and dozens of other nations have risen in protest. The 56-inch chest of the nation’s top leader collapses, shifting blame to the ‘fringe’ and urging that we concentrate on development and national interests for the time being. That is just what he should have been doing from the beginning, instead of performing ‘bhumi pujans’ and re-writing history. Under RSS-tuition, India can never rise to be a Vishwa Guru. We become diminutives.

BJP Opted for the Wrong Path a Long Time Ago

Omar Abdullah, former CM, called the film Kashmir Files which showed Kashmiri Muslims in bad light a total lie. He cautioned that there could be consequences. In contrast, Mohan Bhagwat of the RSS, the most powerful extra-constitutional authority in India, pressed the Pandits to return to Kashmir Valley, assuring security. People lost their lives. One tragedy followed another. Bhagwat was nowhere to be found, Shahji remained silent, Modiji mum. 

Emotions drive the nation today, not sound reasoning. Money-makers provide the resources for the rashness. It is true, religious sentiments move the masses; but money-wizards control the flow of money. The entire national wealth is being sold off to cronies (ports, airlines, railways, all profit-making centres), so that elected political leaders can concentrate on bhumi pujans, vigilantes, propagation of prejudices and pre-election freebies. It is said the Kashmir files earned a fortune of 200 crores, while planting hatred. Kejriwal condemned this manner of making money out of some else’s misery.

The story does not begin with Kashmir Files or Nupur-Jindal misstep. It goes back to the demolition of Babri Masjid, the abrogation of article 370, the passing of CAA bill and all the suppressed anger of millions within the country and the global scenario. Did our great ‘patriots’ stop there? They find a Shivalinga in a pond near Gyanvapi mosque. People are not allowed to ask, who flung the Shivalinga there? Hindutva activists can bury images in hidden corners, neglected angles, and others’ property in such a way as to make claims. They have done that repeatedly.

Every mosque and monument today stands threatened: Mathura, Kashi, and scores of others. Jamiat, a body of Islamic scholars, fears that conceding at Gyanvapi will open floodgates, as they had cautioned about Ayodhya earlier. That is exactly what happened. Jamiat urges that the 1991 law that respects the present status of places of worship be adhered to.  

Emotional Disintegration

Our Founding Fathers worked hard for the emotional integration of various communities in India,  recognising and respecting cultural and religious differences. They called it “National Integration”.  The BJP has been moving in the opposite direction from the beginning: forced integration (one language one culture, one religion), which is the formula for national disintegration. Shah’s eagerness to impose Hindi has roused sturdy resistance in the South and East. For a while there was no other topic in their political gatherings or regional press.

From there the great dividers moved on to love jihad, halal meat, Hijab ban, loud-speaker silencing in mosques, we have ended up with having nothing in national debates that unites the communities. Every gathering of swamis and gurus conclude with people shouting “fight, die and kill” to establish Hindu rashtra.   Mohan Bhagwat takes issues further, wanting to achieve Akhand Bharat in 15 years! People are taught to live on empty dreams while human concerns like roti, makan, kapda get forgotten.

It is in such a context that N.V. Ramana, Chief Justice of India, gently urges judges to function with a human face”, to attend to the human aspects of issues. Such an exhortation truly represents the ‘Indian ethos’ and those who live by them are genuine ‘patriots’, not those who shout “Jai Shri Ram” and beat up cow-dealers.  But our national leaders seem to be guiding people away from such precious values. The TV channels they own and social media they control spit venom. They are more skilled in rabble-rousing and emotion-building than the healing of historic memories.

Someone has compared the present Indian scenario to the Rwandan situation of government-sponsored hatred that led to a world-shocking genocide. Critics consider Yogi’s encounter-killings genocide on a mini scale. They have described his polarizing strategies as “state-sponsored division of society”.  Similarly, the Ram Navami puja in JNU led to clashes over food items, spearheaded by the ABVP. Again, the great Hindu Mahapanchayat at Delhi’s Burari ground turned out to be an occasion to attack seven journalists who were covering the event. The police stood still. Violence got legitimized.

Bigotry Is Bad Business

The worst victim is going to be the Indian economy about which Modiji is specially proud. One need not deny him the credit for having certain helpful perceptions about the flow of money. But the question remains: is his vision of the national economy inclusive or exclusive? Is it for the benefit of a few, many or all?  If it will ensure productivity and profit, will it also take care of fair distribution, attend to the weak and general wellbeing? Will Modiji remember that bigotry is bad business, e.g. if Hindu women refuse to buy saris or food products made by Muslims, or Muslims boycott Hindu handicrafts? 

Unemployment has mounted in India, i. with demonetisation hitting small and medium-sized business, ii. cattle-dealers having been driven out of job, iii. big companies exporting beef at enormous profit, robbing low-income earners of their livelihood. Such economic strategies have brought down the ‘purchasing power’ of India’s millions, who constitute the backbone of the nation’s economy. So, economists say, while exports have risen, ‘domestic demand’ has fallen and production-centres are cutting down production than increasing it. The economy slows down.

The social disharmony that seems to be rising in regions like Karnataka can weaken brisk and mutually stimulating economic relationships. UP or MP may become uninviting regions for big scale enterprises. Entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw warns that Bangalore may lose its global leadership in information technology if communal exclusion takes over. There is nothing like ‘collective striving’ for common good, says Suketu Mehta’s in Maximum City. Francis Fukuyama contends that mutual ‘Trust’ is more important for the economy than capital, raw materials and technical skills. Bigotry blocks all business bustling.

Choose the Path of Balance and Moderation

It was in a period of social tension that Buddha left home to search for lasting solutions, to think deep and reflect. He was enlightened by the revolutionary idea that hatred cannot be conquered by hatred, only by love. He proposed the Middle Path of balanced thinking, avoiding all exaggerations. The challenge today is to bring such truly “Indian insights” to daily life, to the political field and social contexts. Such core concepts of religion need to be protected today. When the UN proposed March 15 as the International Day to combat ‘Islamophobia’, India suggested combating ‘religio-phobia’, meaning that all religions need protection.

Any perceptive person will understand that the present ‘Arabic ire’ is not just about the slip of the tongue of two individuals, but an interpretation of the sentiment of 250 million Indian Muslims whom they see as a ‘persecuted minority’. I will not attempt listing the grievances of minorities, but their number has been steadily growing. The path of moderation for which Indians are known world over is clean forgotten and the Middle Path long abandoned. What are reported are exaggerations of every kind: aggressive words, violent deeds, insensitive retaliation for diverse reasons. Every ethnic, cultural, religious group has erred in different directions. Forgiveness must be sought from everyone.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, a well-known peace activist, wrote about those who use violence: “Terrorists are victims who create other victims”. It is violence that has led to violence, anger that has generated further anger. It is great to learn that Macron has pleaded with Zelensky not to “humiliate Russia”. Indeed, never humiliate an entire society/community: Muslim or Hindu; Russia or China; Ukrainians or Taiwanese, Kashmiris or BJP-RSS. All mean well, but need to correct themselves where they have erred.

It is Civilization that needs to be saved. ‘True Hindutva’ stands for truthfulness, humanity and authenticity, failing which the present day BJP is weakening itself. Filing ‘fake cases’ against mere dissenters or critics, disturbs the heart of sincere members of their own party. Promoters of untruth are bound to flounder. People may be misguided for a while, but not all the time; they may be misguided in some areas, not everywhere; they may be deceived in some spheres of thinking, not in every sphere. 

But the consolation is that everyone can change. It came as a big surprise recently when the Taliban showed an eagerness to preserve their Buddha statues. Remember how they had mercilessly destroyed Bamiyan Buddhas to the shock of the world. Today, the Taliban has changed its mind. They do not want to upset the Chinese, among whom there would certainly be some Buddhist believers.  Afghanistan urgently needs Chinese help to tap their rich copper mines around Mes Aynak. Yes, we all need each other. Western chauvinists need Russian oil and gas to support the Ukrainian defence!!

We had hoped that the BJP leaders would mature in office. Eight years is a long time. Moreover, Modiji had spoken about the importance of earning “sab ka vishwas”, of removing “dil ki doori”. Such slogans never went beyond words. A change is still possible. Think responsibly, act maturely. We need each other

Recent Posts

Election of Draupadi Murmu as the next President of India is a foregone conclusion as the BJD (Biju Janata Dal), the YSR Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have declared their support to her.
apicture Jacob Peenikaparambil
04 Jul 2022
According to Article 60 of the Constitution of India, the responsibility of the President is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution
apicture Sacaria Joseph
04 Jul 2022
In our depraved, sick society, religion seems to be the driving force for man’s inhumanity to man.
apicture Mathew John
04 Jul 2022
The Indian media today is caught in the pincer of a severe crisis marked by a lack of credibility and responsibility.
apicture Ramesh Menon
04 Jul 2022
Abortion is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being in the womb.
apicture Bp Gerald John Mathias
04 Jul 2022
Army needs a change from the colonial to the national. But the new scheme introduced by the government does not come up to the expectations
apicture N. Kunju
04 Jul 2022
The proposed ambitious K-Rail SilverLine Project of Kerala has invited knee-jerk reactions from the public, political parties and civil society groups alike
apicture Dr. Pauly Mathew Muricken
04 Jul 2022
Effective this July 1, in line with the notification of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of 12 August 2021
apicture Aarti
04 Jul 2022
For the last 30 years, I have been speaking and writing about the urgent need of promoting practical value education in schools, especially for high-school students.
apicture Varghese Alengaden
04 Jul 2022
“Congratulations ma’am!” “Thank you! Are you congratulating me for soon becoming the first tribal president?”
apicture Robert Clements
04 Jul 2022