As the town of Muzaffarnagar burns, we see alleged journalists, intellectuals, social scientists, all kinds of opinion makers and influencers coming out and repeating the same old script of ‘politicians playing politics over a dead body‘ for about 270979304878th time since Luke Skywalker fought Darth Vader.
Actually, it is not a bad proposition if you look at it. With this proposition, situations that led to riots are absolved; incompetency of police is absolved; HELL! Even the rioters from both communities are absolved and the guilt is put on the entire political class that Indians love to hate.
It is a rosy idea to picture two communities living side by side like two brothers and suddenly becoming rioters who do what they do only because they’re fed by politicians after midnight. Let me remind you.. “It is not their fault, it is the politicians’!” Pretty tranquil picture, isn’t it?
But this ostrich proposition poses a grave threat. It does not represent a pragmatic view of the situation, hides the cracks with L’Oreal’s makeup kit, the underlying threats present in the society are obscured and the reality which is all dolled up and ready to party is presented.
The reality however is, there are fault lines existing in India and they are growing deeper and wider. This make-believe feel-good narrative of ‘aal ij well’ doesn’t fill those fault lines, it only overlooks. The mentioned-a-million-times ‘Unity’ of India is increasingly becoming a legend of the bygone era. Yes, political class may be responsible to an extent, but the reality is, they are capable of doing it because there is a scope of widening the rifts. It makes us feel proud talking about ‘the great social fabric of India’ but that fabric today, is in tatters.
Increasingly, the instances of communal tensions, riots, alienation between communities are making headlines and the very fact that there is a terrorist organization made of Indian citizens is disheartening to say the least. Across the country, even at places where riots were unheard of, communal tensions are becoming reality. Assam, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Maharashtra, UP, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh – all of these states have witnessed riots in the recent years.
Is it all only due to the politicians? Is it a simple anomaly in an otherwise perfect equation where removal of a variable – politicians – gives you the correct answer? I doubt. There have been riots in the past without involvement of the political class and the much lauded models of ‘liberal’ ‘academics’ have failed to explain most of them. The author – a lowly common man has no solutions to suggest as to how to bridge the fault lines, but it is extremely important that we acknowledge the presence of them in order to start working towards the real solution.
Another underlying reality this make believe narrative of ‘aal ij well’ overlooks is the radicalization of Indian Muslim community. The fact that the Syrian ambassador recently alleged the involvement of Indian nationals ‘Waging the war for Islam’ in Syria is big enough to worry the entire country. Growing Arabisation in Kerala again hides miles behind the feel-good propaganda.
Without mincing words, the reality is that global jihadi machinery is making inroads in India and it is time to sit up and take notice if we are to preserve the unity, social fabric and Idea of an India that we are so proud of. Politicians will play their games – but the intellectual cowardice of our opinion making class will damage the very unity of this country more if we are to keep staring and feeling proud at the facade of social harmony while the building behind crumbles.