Religion, Politics and Power....
All of us in this world are followers of a certain belief system or faith. There are also those among us who do not follow any of the belief systems or faith but adhere strictly to an ideology based on objective thinking, behaviour and so on. All through the ages, there have been numerous contributions, trials, tribulations, debates, arguments, criticisms etc between the various sects. Inherently all human beings exhibit the trait of “individual self-expression”, all of us trained to express our feelings, thoughts as well as absorb and understand life through the same ways. All human beings depending upon the situation carry out this process of understanding and assimilation with the world around consciously or unconsciously. What poses here as a question is do human beings necessarily at all times follow only the prescribed model or the pattern of the majority or the path of individual self-expression.
It is here that I begin my debate….
A statement goes that
Is like every other man
Is like some other man
Is like no other man”
(I am using the word “man” consciously.)
The growing religious fervor in the country has led to many dissent and disaster among the people in our country. Religious groups each trying to outdo each other and display their followers, power, control and prosperity. I am going to refrain from adding the adjective “greatness” as no religion equates shameless display to greatness or expects followers to explicitly define, highlight the greatness of the religion. Religious processions have been for long the trigger point for violence and many groups manipulate this situation to serve their own means. Mob violence has been on a rise with organised violence sanctioned by the so-called leaders of the religious groups.
India has been the melting point for different cultures, activities, faiths, beliefs as well as ideologies. The land enriched by the various invasions is subsequently the home to many religious groups. The major religious groups Hindus, Muslims, Christians followed by other groups like Buddhists, Parsis, Sikhs, and Jains. In addition to them, we have numerous tribal groups who have their own specific forms of faiths, beliefs as well as sects of people belonging to rationalists, communist’s school of thought and strong atheists. The mere presence of these diverse schools of thought has been the cause of tensions long enough. However, the Indian democracy announced the country to be secular and proclaimed the ever-popular slogan “India –Unity in Diversity.” It is not easy to imbibe this slogan, as by nature: as (fragmented) Indians we remain divided not merely by religion, in fact religion is only the starting point followed by caste, class, culture etc.
Ages of history has kept molding and remolding the people of this land in order to adapt and survive the situation. This history does not let us set aside the “excess baggage” of mistrust and fear aside. Even when we proceed towards radical and new beginnings at the heart incidents keep repeating, tormenting and planting seeds of suspicion and tensions within us. The nameless fear has successfully integrated itself within us making “change” a very complex process.
Beginning with the partition, our country has witnessed bloody violence and indiscriminate loss of lives just because of the hatred and intolerance. The display of ruthlessness and equating the same to assert a faith has suspended objective thinking. Rape, torture, looting and murder of anyone different from us have become sadly, the accepted norm of the day. The saying “survival of the fittest” reinterpreted to suit the selfish motives and designs of the “supposed” leaders. The burning vengeance from the blood split during partition remains fresh in our consciousness as a beast awaiting prey. It was following the partition, the preparations for the intolerance war began.
Frequent brawls, fights, clashes, violence kept erupting and effectively building up the dogma of hate and antagonism. With the years the agenda of the many religious and political figures worked to their expectations and people have successfully divided located themselves in places favorable to them. This pogrom of planned divisions happens all around the country and the visible examples of this is the “New Delhi”, “Old Delhi”; “New Bhopal”, “Old Bhopal”; “Hyderabad”, “Secundrebad” and so on…. Even within the city that we reside we can demarcate the lines of Hindu habitat and Muslim habitat (although there are exceptions to this). These carefully alienated localities help nobody but the rioters and extremists during their killing, bombing and looting sprees. This strategically planned religious persecution is evident from the Babri-Masjid as well as the recent Godhra massacres.
The extent of inhumanity is beyond the capacity of our imagination. Survivors of these riots place their experiences as that being worse than hell (however, horrifying HELL been portrayed)… When human beings can create HELL on earth why has not the gods protected the innocents? Why has not god punished the guilty? Why has not the lord saved the defenseless? Why has god instead let loose the inhuman creatures capable of wicked and sadistic crimes? These are the questions of the millions of the survivors and victims’ alive to speak out of these religious regimes vicious cruelty. Sadly, no GOD answered these questions. These questions remain as ramblings floating around us and echoing of the shameful acts of brutality that we “Human Beings” are capable.
Many organizations have branded themselves for the cause of “religious/cultural glorification and revival.” They find faithful and active supporters among the disillusioned, disappointed and unemployed youth groups. Once taken in the youth extensively trained to practice, preach hate and anger towards all others whom they regard as different. Grilled into their psyche that “certain”, “particular” groups are to blame for the disparities that are in existence, the leaders effectively control, create havoc and destructions to fulfill their personal goals and ambitions. (‘Political’ by nature.)
Where do women fit into this whole agenda? Easy… they are the countless victims, they remain the most vulnerable targets and most affected by all forms of these religious, caste based, ethnicity based violence. The numerous assaults, abuses, sadism that women had to endure during these forms of bloodshed go mostly unreported or censored to avoid further provocation. While this is quite genuine, this does not lead to arrests, detainment or punishment for the accused. In most cases, the perpetrators of these heinous crimes go scot-free.
Why is rape of a woman justified by these rioters? Why do the religious leaders not end this form of violence but use “rape” of woman as an excuse to continue with the same behaviour? Why are women who have till then been excluded, kept away from self-expression and disregarded in political fronts used as a “COMMODITY” to upkeep the hypocritical, insincere religious/caste based/ethnicity based values or morals of the groups and their so-called leaders?
The systems of the country have failed to protect the innocent and punish the accused; the country has sadly become an example where dictators function with democracy and use “religion” as their weapon for POWER.