Posts Tagged ‘secularism’

Mahatma Gandhi and the politicians who formed the first government of Independent India were the first and last breed of secular politicians this country has seen. Since then there have only been pretenders. Real secularism was replaced by ‘politics of secularism’. By the time Indira Gandhi became the prime minister secularism had become just another dirty word.

Which is where I come to the grand old party of Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand). Nehru, Patel and others, which claims to own the patent to secularism since 1885 or thereabouts, It has also allegedly claimed to have worked for the minorities and the downtrodden since then. If that is so, how is it that most of the minority communities and the downtrodden are still where they are since 1947? And even after being taken for a ride year after year, they continue to vote for the grand old party.

The amount of money that spent on them should have been enough to give them a better life. But has that happened? The fact that the government still has to give them food subsidies, free mobiles, write off loans etc, shows that the Congress party’s policies have, by and large, FAILED in their objectives to raise the living standards of the minorities and economically weaker sections.

If there are those from such communities and castes who have overcome obstacles and risen to make a name for themselves, they have done so because of their own desire to succeed. Just today I read about Yusufalli, a Malayalee businessman in the UAE, who has been voted the most powerful Indian in the Gulf for the fourth year running. That’s a fantastic achievement. The Indians in the Gulf are a good example of people working to make a living instead of depending on the sops thrown to them by government.

In journalism, there are two sides to every story. While I completely understand that Narendra Modi’s past with reference to Gujarat in 2001, makes him suspect, I am also aware that Congress politicians are equally guilty of engineering riots in the country and worse. If I tell a Modi-hater that neither the courts nor the security agencies have been able to pin anything on him for the riots, there are howls of protest, and they allege that he has manipulated the courts and the legal system. Fair enough. However, when I ask them why people like Kamal Nath, Tytler and others are still walking free for their alleged roles in various riots; about people like Lalu who walked free for 17 years until recently, then there is studied silence. There’s more, but let’s leave that for another day.

Why are the same secular people and media, who rail against Modi for his divisive politics and his riot-tainted past completely silent when someone like Shinde or Sonia waxes eloquent about being on the side of the minorities. Or is it a case of selective knowledge? Or is it that they are so blinded by hate for the BJP or Modi or whoever that is anti-Congress, that they turn a blind eye to any nonsense that is said in the name of secularism? It’s almost as if, anyone is against the Congress or Rahul, then he must be pro-Modi!

Then some of my good friends think that by ridiculing Rahul Gandhi and his antics, I am inadvertently making Modi a hero, which he is not. Then, of course, there are those veiled suggestions that I am, in fact, a closet Hindu fundamentalist or worse a Modi supporter. To be honest, my religious inclinations are quite a joke among the members of my family. In my home, during every festival, my wife, who believes in observing most festivals, has to drag me most reluctantly to the puja corner in our house, even to spend a few minutes in silence.

Yes I do carry a Hanuman Chalisa with me. It is usually in the glove compartment of the car. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. It started after I once found that I felt a little calm after reading it. I had to ask my wife and son what the words meant, though! So now one copy lies in my glove compartment. Call me silly, superstitious or whatever. So does that qualify me to be either a closet fundamentalist Hindu or a Narendra Modi fan? I hope not, otherwise a lot of people who read such books would also be labelled fundamentalists!

To be honest, I would rather be anything but a supporter of a government whose Home Minister demolishes the credibility of his own police force and intelligence community; where an upstart MP can ridicule his own prime minister and government on a public forum because he wants to indulge in theatrics to garner some brownie points; where the entire government machinery closes ranks to protect the son-in-law of the first family who they claim is a ‘private citizen’; where MPs accused in corruption cases can get re-elected to the Rajya Sabha with the backing of the ruling party, and where a Congress-ruled State government announces that loans taken by Muslims will be underwritten. So what crime have the others committed to be excluded from such munificence?

If this is how secularism is to be defined, thank you, but no thank you. And I am sure my Muslim friends understand the point.