Recently, India has seen a rise in demand for proof. Evidence. Saboot. Certification. The majority (Hindus) needs to prove that it is secular and the minorities (mainly Muslims) need to showcase their patriotism or, better still, provide certification for it.
The other day, the MoS Minority Affairs for the state of Uttar Pradesh Baldev Singh Aulakh was arguing on a news channel for the singing of Vande Mataram to be made mandatory. Yet, when asked to lead by example, Mr. Aulakh was unable to get going. Maharashtra MLA Raj Purohit – another flag bearer of the suggestion – went a step further and mutilated the song by forgetting half the lyrics, going terribly out of tune and basically making a joke of himself. The man’s been in state politics for a quarter of a century, by the way. Samajwadi Party’s Mavia Ali decided to thrown in his two paisa on the subject by saying, like a lot of hard-line clerics, that he was a Muslim first and an Indian second.
Nationalism today has taken on a form of extremism (thank you, BJP). We’re ready to jump at one another’s throats over it. And there is nothing more shameful for a country as unique and as diverse as ours. Let’s face it: singing Vande Mataram does not make anybody more patriotic than someone who doesn’t. There are those who have sung it at some point of time in their lives and then gone on to betray their country. The same applies to the National Anthem. I’ll admit that I love singing it. I am gung-ho about it. But I wouldn’t ask anybody to sing along just to ascertain whether they’re truly Indian. That’s bollocks. Respect doesn’t have one standard procedure in regards to how it is conveyed. And nobody has the right to decide how patriotic someone else is. One shouldn’t have to prove their nationalism to any of the trolls on the internet, quite a few of whom are part of the ruling party’s IT cell. Being patriotic is subjective. Otherwise one would say that only people in government jobs are patriots. No. A software engineer working for an MNC can be just as patriotic as someone who is in the Armed Forces. His/Her way of loving and serving his/her country is just different from what is deemed the ‘real’ method.
As a new atheist (a form of atheism), I’d probably shut my trap on religion but I won’t. The Constitution gives every citizen the right to practice their religion freely. Do it. Please do. Hindus shouldn’t have to prove they’re secular. For the longest time, secularism has meant minority appeasement (thanks, INC) and that is totally and completely wrong. Why must Hindus have to prove that they’re pro-minority? Can they not be without having to yell it out, just like one can be a nationalist and a patriot without yelling about it on all possible social media forums. Is it wrong to want equal treatment with the minorities? Why must they feel slighted each and every time? And why should they keep quiet each time and take all that is being heaped on them?
On a slightly different note, people should be willing to take criticism about religion too. This applies to all religions (looking at you with a death-striking glare, supporters of Triple Talaq). Even religion requires updating. It requires criticism. Culture needs to move forward, instead of staying in the 18th century. That’s the way forward.
This paragraph is dedicated to the upholders of religion and law and order, the biggest, most nationalistic patriots the world will ever see. You know who you are. POLITICIANS! (And your stooges). Know what? Stop bullshitting and get some work done. Appearing on media channels and making a fool of yourself every once in a while is nice, but it gets irritating when you turn up every evening. And stop certifying people. Or people will start cutting you, a la Pahlaj Nihalani. The day is not very far when the people of India get restless and barge into Parliament House to thrash the living daylights out of the politicians. Even the police won’t protect them because they’ll be just as fed up as the rest of us and may just join in. Politicians have no right to decide who is a nationalist and who isn’t. And they’re the last people who should give sermons on that topic. We know they’d do a deal with the devil to fill their pockets. Hey, you! Politicians! You are supposed to do a particular job. You are elected to office for a purpose. You don’t receive votes to decide who goes to Pakistan and who goes to China and who goes to Timbuktu. Kiren Rijiju, a Union Minister, commented about the entire Gurmehar Kaur incident without having watched the video which started the entire tamasha. Is that how a Union Minister should behave? Knee-jerk reactions like Rijiju’s boost the morale of online trolls and give them validity. Inciting people, not reigning in your supporters, talking rubbish….all of this has a greater impact on the country than you’d think (or we’d hope). You are ruining what our ancestors most tried to preserve: our country.
If you pay your taxes, if you don’t commit a crime and if you’re genuinely a good citizen of India, you’re a nationalist. You are showing your love for your country by not throwing garbage on the streets, not by roughing up people in the darkness of a movie theatre.
Our strength as a country has been our diversity as people. Nowhere in the world is there a nation wherein reside people from so many occupations, religions, ethnicities, regions. Politicians and internet trolls and news anchors are dividing the country. Today, you have Hindus and Muslims, Nationalists and Anti-Nationalists, Communists (or as I, ever the Commando fan like to call them, the Reds) and Right-Wingers, UPites and Maharashtrians. In the midst of our religious beliefs, political ideologies and regional loyalties, we’ve forgotten that we’re Indians. We’ve allowed ourselves to get pushed into a corner where we are punched by the powers that be, constantly. And we have refrained from reacting till now.
On the seventieth anniversary of India becoming an independent nation, I want to thank each and every sensible Indian who has done their bit for the country (or will do, in the future).
Independence Day 2017
UNABASHEDLY FRANK is going to be a series similar to CINEPHILE STOCK. The piece ‘Unconsciously A Feminist….Until Recently’ will be out on August 29, after which the series will be updated every Sunday. Cheers.