By Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Indian Parliament paid glorious tribute to Baba Saheb Ambedkar on his 125thbirth anniversary celebrations and prime minister asked that the values of the constitution be promoted all over the country yet the home minister wanted the 'Socialist secular' word to be deleted as they are 'redundant' and 'misused' in India and not part of the original preamble. Even if these two words were not there and there might have been reasons does not mean that they have no relevance. How could Ambedkar who espoused the cause of socialism giving absolute guidance through directive principles not like 'socialism'?
The violence and cruelty in this country are not new but the problem is how our media comes out with general reference suggesting these are 'aberrations' and then harp on great golden past of 'tolerance' and then this country jump out with candle lights and black badges against 'aberrations'. In Parliament Rajnath Singh said Ambedkar was humiliated and discriminated yet he never felt leaving the country and Congress Party's leader in Lok Sabha Mr Mallikarjun Khadage retorted by saying as why should he leave the country, he was the 'moolniwasi' indigenous habitat of the country, Aryans came from outside to oppress us. What have we done to address those concern of Dr Ambedkar if we say we genuinely respect him and his thoughts. His concern was for a social democracy but has it been addressed. Will the government outlaw the Khap Panchayats and promote self arrange marriages that transcendent religious, caste boundaries. Will it protect those who do so? Modi's successor in Gujarat felt that the 22 commandments of Dr Ambedkar to Dalits, can create animosity between the societies and hence withdraw the book on Ambedkar. Have we seen any country where you want to create temples of man, worship him but refuse to implement his socio cultural thoughts? Will political parties take to Ambedkar's vision of Prabudha Bharat and it is possible only through a fair implementation of our constitutional values and ensuring they become part of our daily habits culturally too.
When values of liberalism, freedom of thoughts and respect for dissent comes in our heart and become part of our core values then we are capable of even admitting that not everything was 'golden' in our past. It is not important to say that all our forefathers were the greatest people on earth and did not commit any atrocity or mistake on any one. When you are surrounded by those who believe more in jargons and high voltage 'nationalism' to fulfill their ulterior political motives you start glorifying and justifying everything of the past and that result in distortion of facts and converting many people into heroes and others who disagree to be as villain. The liberal 'followers' of these theories actually will condemn these incidents but term them as 'stray' or fringe. But today the situation is not that simple. It is not just the physical violence but academic dishonesty and projecting our past as always 'golden' and liberal. We are not a theocracy and the constitution gave us freedom of expression to remind the good and bad of our past so that the current generation could learn from both. Hiding the dirt of the past will only create a highly intolerant society. It is time to remember some of the incidents termed as aberrations and our reactions then after the independence.
1. In 1948, immediately after the independence, a fanatic Brahmin assassinated Gandhi but the nation remained calm. I shudder to think what would have happened if the murderer of Gandhi were a Dalit or a Muslim but then most of the 'intellectuals' pointed out that it was a murder carried by a RSS affiliated organization and not really by a Hindu or Brahmin fanatic. We were told that it was an aberration as people of India love tolerance.
2. In 1982 thousands of innocent Muslims were butchered to death at a place called Nellie in Asam in the name of 'outsiders'. The government of India failed. There were other 'communal riots' engineered in Bijnaur, Moradabad, Bhagalpur and Meerut. The victims did not get any justice and we satisfied with these aberrations. Life was as usual as ever.
3. In 1984 Indira Gandhi was assassinated by the two body guards of her who happened to be Sikhs and the 'people' decided to teach Sikhs a lesson of their life. For next three days the country saw planned massacre of the worst kind in India in which children were burnt to death and people were chased away simply because they practiced another faith. Human Rights Organisation worked day and in night yet we said it was an aberration. Some said it was 'emotional' outburst while the 'power' justified it as 'jab bada ped girta hai to dharati hiltee hai' when a big tree falls the earth trembles. The movement against the highhandedness of the prime minister had just started but rather than being apologetic he challenged the opponents in the plain Bollywood style, ' Unko naani yaad kara denge'.
4. In 1991 when Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the Tamil terrorists the entire country remained calm. Why? There were no accusations and counter accusations. His cremations passed peacefully. There was no aberration as perhaps the killers were not Muslims. I walked through the streets of Delhi that day to see the empty roads but no 'terror' unlike the first three days of Indira Gandhi's assassination when the city was virtually burning.
5. In 1992 the Hindu fanatics demolished the Babari Masjid proclaiming that it was a temple where Lord Rama was born and that the said temple was demolished by Emperor Babur hence it was a history 'correction' project for them. Accordingly, Babari Masjid was the symbol of slavery and must be demolished to pave the way for a grand Ram Temple. It is well known fact how the idols of Lord Rama were installed in the masjid yet even if those factors are not accounted none has given right to street goons masquerading as politicians to become constitution unto themselves. World watched with horror how the lynch mob of Hindutva climbed up to the monument and demolished it. From December 7th, 1992 onwards we found 'secular' people remembering Gandhi and condemning Sangh Parivar and its affiliates with utterings, 'our age old tradition of tolerance' is broken. It brought shame to Hinduism. Rather than saying that you cannot correct history and if you try to dig too much you will only find the Buddhist structure underneath and if they want to correct everything then you can imagine what will be left in India? But again demolition of Babari Masjid was described as aberration of the Hindutva fringe.
6. Immediately in the aftermath of the Babari Masjid riots were engineered in Mumbai in 1993 and state apparatus failed to protect the people of the city as political rivals were raising the issue. Hundreds died and none was punished so far. In fact, the hate mongers became managers of the city and now control the levers of power. Bombay is the city of tolerance, we were told and this incident was an aberration only. The case continues in the court and the Tamilnadu government seeks commutation of the death penalty respecting the 'sentiments' of the Tamil people and it is so as the murderers are not Muslims.
7. The thugs burnt a Christian Missionary Graham Stains and his innocent children in the forest of Odisha blaming him for engaging in 'conversion. We all cried and condemned the incident and called it the work of a 'fringe' and mad man influence by the toxic 'ideology' of Hindutva. On the other hand, we don't have much appreciation for his wife who pardoned the barbarians who killed her husbands and children so brutally.
8. In 2002 hundreds of people died because of the absolute failure of the state. A former member of parliament was burnt to death while begging for protection. We heard many stories of brutality and barbarism. Many attributed to Godhra incident of burning of Hindus in the train who were returning by the Sabarmati Express by the mob incited by the Muslim fanatics. Now, there were two kinds of people who said Godhara accident was not planted by Muslims as if they can't do it and the other said it was only Muslims who did it and that Hindus have a right to avenge it and therefore all that happened in post Godhara incident in Gujarat was justified. Our position was clear on both the front. State cannot justify tit for tat as it needs to protect people and provide justice to the victims. If the Muslims of Godhra were engaged in certain incident that can't be a justification for their lynching in rest of the state and in the country. The duty of the state is to provide protection to its citizens irrespective of caste and investigate the matter and bring justice to the people whoever he or she is.
9. In between we had seen the murders of Dalits in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Maharastra, Gujarat by the upper caste landed communities. None went to jail. We had numerous caste murders, honored killings, khap justice killing innocent lovers who dared to cross caste and religious boundaries, in the most brutal and barbaric way. There was not a tear shed for them. Communities laughed blamed others and went scot free. We the romantics blame a few fringes and said it was an aberration.
10. Then came the 'horror' moment of India. December 16th Nirbhaya rape put blame on violence against women on the prime minister and the then government. The 'nation' burnt and cried. It wanted a new law which was given to it. The 'nation' wanted to hang the perpetrators of the crime. We protested and wanted our streets, markets, home become 'secure' for our girls but when a British woman make a documentary and 'reveal' the dirty reality of the society in India, we all wanted a ban on the film. We said that the 'nation' is against the culture of ban yet if somebody exposes its culture then that must be banned. The film on Nirbhaya was banned because the upper caste lawyer was seen saying that if his daughter would come late and had a boyfriend he would not hesitate to burn her. We saw the statement in deep dismay and utter disgust yet we decided to shoot the messenger and said such episode do not 'reflect' our society which is very tolerant.
11. A Christian professor's hands were chopped off by the Muslim fanatics for allegedly 'insulting' prophet Mohammad. The Hindu communal became liberals asking for the human rights of the professor while the 'secularists' ignored the ghastly incident. We all said Muslims are not like that and these are fringe.
12. In district Kannur, Kerala a Dalit woman Chitralekha was hounded, named and humiliated by the people including that of those belonging to ruling left front leaders that time because she became an auto driver much to discomfort of many drivers who wanted to throw her out because she belong to the Dalit community. She fought for her battle for nearly 11 years yet our national conscience did not wake up.
13. In 2013 Western Uttar Pradesh saw the communal flashpoint. How the Mujaffarnagar violence killed people. Blame game started. The goons got political legitimacy and finally went to their political parties and became ministers. Those who were killed, raped and left homeless still suffer. The helpless People came in the street, protested with candlelight suggesting that such 'aberrations' don't takes place next time if we follow Gandhiji.
14. Now people are being killed for their food menu inside the home. Akhlaq was killed for no fault of his as it was alleged that his family was cooking beef. We felt outraged at it and said the Hindutva fringe do not represent India. Hindus and Muslims have lived together and have been very tolerant. Several years' back two dalits were killed for tanning the skin of a dead cow in Jhajjar town of Haryana. The hypocrisy is 'liberalism' that in this country killing a cow is punishment and raise so much of 'passion' while killing a Dalit does not attract that much of passion and condemnation.
15. Hundreds of Dalit families faced tyranny of the caste Hindus in Harayana and none came to support them. When they converted to Islam after all option failed they were threatened. Now two Dalit children were burnt in Harayana and the nation woke up to protest,' the killers of these brutalities don't represent us as these are aberrations'. The minister compared them to dogs and get away with it only to show how much are we 'tolerant' towards those who spit venom every day.
16. When rationalists like Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Kalburgi and Govind Pansare were killed no remorse was shown. In fact people were threatened with dire consequences. None of them were part of any mainstream political party. They had been speaking against prevailing superstition in the society an issue none of the political parties dare to question hence not much botheration about their killings. But today when the world watch us in horror and our culture of 'tolerance' stand exposed then we have started singing again that 'they' do not 'represent' our society.
17. Amir Khan and Shahrukh Khan are actually the 'brand' 'ambassadors' of 'Indian tolerance' and 'inclusive' democracy world over. We don't realize that this country could not convince Maqbool Fida Hussain to return as the Hindutva's lunatics continue to threaten him with diverse cases in different courts. Sad that there is no mechanism from saving people from such kind of 'legal' 'terror' where you don't know who and where can file a case against you. The local courts are ready to take such frivolous petitions and failing to respond could place you in jail. With all this, we have shown remarkable 'tolerance' for those who are spitting venom on social media against the opponents, threatening them with murders and exporting people to Pakistan as if they have an agreement with the latter.
18. In the past fifty years, we have 'tolerantly' witnessed the silence annihilation of Aadivasi culture in the name of development. Millions have been uprooted from their native land to make India a 'world power'. We have land for big corporate but no land for the honorable and dignified settlements of Aadivasis. Every big dam can narrate you story of slaughtering of aadivasis from their land.
19. Even after 68 years of our 'independence' people clean filth, go deep into pit to pick up garbage, millions are still engaged in picking human excreta. Prime Minister's Swachch Bharat cannot eradicate it as it attempt to hide the dirty reality of manual scavenging. As a society, don't we think that we should have been highly 'intolerant' towards such discrimination but then what to do we are a 'tolerant' society.
20. That we have tolerated so much to see women's are disallowed in the temples along with Dalits. Girls are being killed in the womb, sold in the market in many places. Going out without a male aid is a challenge and we witness this with great tolerance.
21. Haven't we 'tolerated' too much the discrimination to people in North East that AFSPA still remain in force despite protests by the people there. We will 'glorify' Irom Sharmila as 'greatest' but not ready to listen to her voice.
These are just a few 'aberrations' in a society where it is happening at a regular stretch. You need to just go deep into communal violence, massacre of Dalits, violence against women, untouchability, manual scavenging, anti land grabbing protests, encroachment of big corporations in the forests, big dams etc to see the level of 'tolerance' that India has towards its own people.
The tolerance-intolerance debate reminds me of a great word of wisdom by Sardar Hukum Singh in the Constituent Assembly related to minority-majority issues. He warned against majority communalism as soon the thin line disappear and criminal communalism become war cries of 'nationalism'. If the minorities who always are threatened react by asserting as well as displaying their cultural identity then it is easily termed as 'communalism'. Minority's assertion to their identity therefore become a dissent and must be dealt with harshly.
But in the current phase India is passing through that kind of tolerance where a 'Muslim' cannot express anything against the 'popular' notions and he must be proud of our 'great' heritage at the same point of time Hindus can speak anything without getting noticed. So there is no doubt that we were never tolerant towards dissent. Muslims may be becoming victim of this 'intolerance' now but we have history of celebrating killings right from the mythological text. Don't we celebrate burning of 'Holika' during the Holy festival ? Haven't we seen celebration of killings of Ravana, Meghnath, Kumbhkaran, Suparnkha, Tadka at such a huge level ? How can our children think of tolerance and Dharma. How you define it. Rama who exiled his pregnant wife and left her, spied her and doubted her chastity while Ravana who did not even touch her despite abducting her just to avenge his sisters humiliation. How will our children become rational when they are told do just follow the 'symbolism' and not to think as why should we celebrate killing. Don't we celebrate killing of Mahishasura. No body wants to know as why these people were killed. The only arguments for them as that they were 'asuras'. So it means you can kill any one who is 'asura' which was their identity. It means your rights and wrongs are judged by your identity. That is the crux which most of our historians refused to accept. Muslims-Christians face it today. Dalits-aadivasis faced it life long not just from the caste Hindus but also from the upper caste Muslims and Christians too. You cannot be tolerant, civilized when you justify killings in the name of identities. It is important we start scrutinizing these religious texts and historical text as what is wrong. The wrong is in our thinking process and social attitude where your identity and display of identity is a 'dissent' and that has to be crushed. History is a tool of the power elite to intimidate others through distorting and corrupting the knowledge system. So Amir Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Saif Ali are good as Rahul, Vijay, Shankar or so on but not as Mohammad, Aslam or Naushad. They cant speak anything on Muslim issues as that would prompt reaction from the 'trolls' who will abuse you, intimidate later and kill you finally. Isn't it the biggest sign of 'tolerance' that we as a society continue to legitimize them and justify their acts to which 'liberals' would again throw their 'jumla' of 'aberration'.
Europe, Canada, Australia and Newzealands Parliaments have apologised for what they have done to indigenous people. It was a great gesture. Our Parliament is discussing so many things during the 125 years of Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar, the father of our modern republic yet none in the Parliament ever spoke of the historic injustice done towards the Dalits, Aadivasis and the shudras in 2000 years of history of brahmanical brutalities and cruelties. It is time Parliament show some intolerance towards this tolerance of barbaric culture to our own people by our own forefathers. Are we ready to apologise for what the Manusmriti and its masters did to India's Bahujan masses and that would be the real tribute to Baba Saheb Ambedkar if we accept the fact that we were brutal, barbaric and maltreated to our own people and now time has come to undo those historical wrongs.