This is an article meant for my friends the ‘fringe Hindus’, those who have either espoused a Marxist outlook, or are, for their own good reasons, strongly anti-Hindutva, or are neutral, as well as for the Muslim and Christian minorities of India.
When Nehru came to power in 1947, he sincerely thought that some of Marx’s ideas could be put to use in India and help level the terrible inequalities between the very rich and the poor, the high castes and the low castes, the mighty and the helpless. The motive was noble, but unfortunately Indian socialism often made the rich richer and the poor poorer and induced a massive, inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy, that any government today in power finds difficult to dismantle. Everywhere in the world, communism and Marxism are defunct – even China has done more or less done away with it; but in India, not only it remains alive in West Bengal or Kerala, but it has survived as a strong idealism in the minds of much of India’s intelligentsia: most of the English media’s journalists, many of its writers, historians and thinkers. Once again, nothing wrong with that: Indians show, in a world racked with materialism and cynicism, that they remain idealists, loyal and dedicated to selflessness and seva, as the thousands of Indian NGO’s still prove today.
Nevertheless, the world is changing, Asia is changing, India even is changing. We have to live with our times, specially after the 11th September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, which have radically altered the outlook of much of the Western nations. What’s going to happen in Gujarat on the 12th December is equally of paramount importance to the 850 million Hindus in India, the nearly 1 billion Hindus worldwide, and the Christian and Muslim Indian community, as it might redefine their own outlook. Indeed, if the BJP and Narendra Modi win by a handsome margin, an intense intellectual debate will be triggered. We will hear cries of alarm, disgust or worry on the part of the Western press, the Indian English Media and intelligentsia, about “Hindu fanaticism taking over India”, or “the terrible direction that the results of this election seem to portend for India”.
But, once again my ‘fringe’ Hindu brothers and sisters, as well as the Christian and Muslim community of India should remind themselves than in the whole Indian history, Hinduism has always shown that it is not fundamental, that it accepts the others, with their religions and customs, as long as they do not try to impose these beliefs on the majority community. Indeed, in a recent report, the UNESCO pointed out that out of 128 countries where the Jews lived before Israel was created, only one, India, did not persecute them and allowed them to prosper and practice Judaism in peace. And if under the intense and often bloody onslaught of Muslim invasions and later of European colonialism, such a the Portuguese one, which committed untold atrocities in Goa, Hindus kept did not lose their pace and tolerance, why should they now ? Also, Hinduism is probably the only religion in the world which never tried to convert others, or conquer other countries to propagate their own religion. The same is not true of Islam and Christianity.
Thus it would be good if the fringe Hindus and Indian Christian and Muslims should do some introspection and look into the real causes of the Gujarat riots which followed the burning of the 58 kar-sevaks of the Sabarmati Express. If Modi wins, instead of accusing of fanaticism, or even ‘Nazism’, a people which gave to India and to the world Mahatma Gandhi, unique textiles and a solid peaceful culture, it may be time to call a spade a spade and to stop burying one’s head in the sand like an ostrich. We see the Gujarat riots through he eyes of the Western Press and the Indian Media: “Hindu fundamentalists who went on the rampage” etc. But what if Gujarat was the first sign that good, peaceful, non-violent, middle-class and even lower-class Hindus have had it and that they are tired of being made fun of, attacked, bombed, burnt, killed, their women raped, their temples destroyed ? What if, rightly or wrongly, it is the portent of things to come, that next time innocent Hindu women and children are terribly murdered, Hindus might be tempted to take an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, the way Israel does at the official level ? You may argue that it is an hateful, mad and blind violence, but it is also true that Hindus have been at the receiving end of Christians and Muslims for centuries, that today even, 400.000 thousand of them have been made to flee from their ancestral homes in the valley of Kashmir.
Thus, our bother of sisters of Islam, most of whom are peaceful and good-willing, have also to do a little bit of introspection. Every time there is an attack on a Hindu temple, or a bombing, we accuse Pakistan or Al Qaeda. But none of these attacks could happen without the active support of groups of Indian Muslims, as the Bombay blasts or Coimbatore bombings have shown. In the same way, our Christian brothers and sisters should think about this: the first community in the world, the Syrian Christians, established themselves in Kerala in the first century and prospered there in peace. At no time did the Hindus of Kerala try to impose their own religious beliefs upon them, either by force or by roundabout manner. Is it right that the Indian Christian community today not only allows, but often actively collaborates with the foreign missionaries who are bent upon making of India a Christian kingdom and are often using dubious economic incentives to do so ? Do not our brothers and sisters think that it is bound to provoke sooner or later come kind of backlash and that the murder of Graham Staines, however reprehensible, may have been a warning to missionaries who convert by devious means, in the same way Gujarat riots were a warning to Muslims ?
It may be that the overwhelming majority of this country, which has often been in minority morally, is waking up and trying to assert itself, sometimes in an excessive and unforgivable manner. Yet, the fringe Hindus and the Indian Muslims and Christians should not worry: India is a composite society and it is a settled fact. Hindus, Christians, Muslims and other minorities have to learn how to live together peacefully. There is no other choice. And it will be done.