An overseas visitor to India made an interesting observation when visiting the country. On being asked “How do you find Indian people”, he said “I didn’t see any Indians at all”. The person was perplexed as the visitor was in India for many weeks and was an avid traveller while in the country. Understanding the situation, the visitor clarified “I met Punjabis, Marathis, Oriya, Kannadigas etc but no Indians were to be found.” The person was aghast at the comment of the visitor. The incident had him thinking. It has me thinking too…
Another similar remark by Justice Katju, chairman of PCI, former judge Supreme Court and an extremely revered citizen of India, created nothing short of storm in media recently. He candidly claimed that 90% of Indians are idiots. He said this in context of the division of Indian society on communal basis. However, his views can be adequately extended to division of Indian society on caste, culture and language basis.
In the larger context of political things, this division could have been celebrated as diversity but the real essence of things is long lost. This diversity is not celebrated and enjoyed but used and abused for electoral politics. There are instances aplenty of appeasement policies of recent political parties. The most common instances that come to mind are recent minority appeasement policies of the United Progressive Alliance, Dalit appeasement by the Bahujan Samaj Party (Mayawati), Marathi language based appeasement by the Shiv Sena and many more. There is fine line between representing your community and working for their benefit vis-a-vis dividing people and isolating communities for electoral benefit. The line was crossed long ago and we, idiots (90% of us), have done nothing about it.
Indians have had a long history of foreign rule, even if we consider the Mughal rule as indigenous. The British have ruled us for about 200 years before our so-called independence in 1947. Ironically, they realised that in order to rule India they needed to divide us mentally and unite us physically and so they did, divided us – North and South, Hindu and Muslims but also united us in the form of modern India, which earlier used to be a fragmented map of innumerable small kingdoms. Speaking of the divide and rule strategy that the British Raj employed, they created mental blocks among us, a feeling of disparity and victimhood among some sections of our society. There is no denying the fact that there were many social ills/evils plaguing Indian society, not surprisingly British laws could do nothing in containing them, but social reformers like Lokmanya Tilak, Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi and others did succeed in cleansing our society from evils like sati pratha, untouchability etc.
Then came Independence. It came with immense hope and enthusiasm of Swaraj and economic independence – as envisaged by Gandhiji, but none of his ideas seem to have been anywhere close to what reflects in today’s India. This independence has proved to be just an extension of this ‘divide and fool’ policy of the British. The Congress has redefined secularism as minority appeasement, while it’s all about dalits for Mayawati, Muslims for Mulayam, Marathis for Shiv Sena, and Jats in Haryana. In South India, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam also play football with Tamil Nadu’s public. Among all this confusion, we as Indians are wondering if there is anyone who can govern Indians and not treat us like guests in our own country. Muslims, Dalits and other recipients of hollow appeasement speeches agree that they want to become sons and daughters capable of serving their motherland and not infants, forever yearning for special attention of their mother – who is wanting so hard for them to grow up and take responsibility.
All the so-called policies namely reservation, NREGA, innumerable employment guarantee schemes, even Public Distribution Schemes along with catchy slogans like ‘garibi hatao’ have not yielded any results but only helped a few (read: politicians and corporate) become obscenely rich. The fake democracy has also seen rise of a political class that embodies the dangerous idea that Muslims / Dalits / Jats etc can only be governed by the leaders of their respective community. This is in gross violation of basic democratic and secular principles embodied in our constitution. Isn’t Justice Katju right? Indians certainly are idiots, that after hundreds of years of bearing the onus of ‘divide and fool’ strategies from respective rulers, we still trust our politicians when a Jat/Dalit/Muslim leader says that only he or his party can provide social justice to that group.
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the British owed their success in India, to their strategy of aligning with some kingdoms/rajas and alienating the non-cooperative ones, eventually defeating the alienated kingdom. History also tells us that there was a turn for all of the kingdoms and none were spared, leading to the economic slavery of all Indians. Would history repeat itself…..how many times before we understand that a group cannot progress alone? It is just NOT possible to grow alone without the contribution of and contributing towards the growth of our neighbours (read: other castes and communities). Hence, we should not and ought not to trust leaders, who say even after being the head of a state they would only work towards benefit of that particular group, rest assured that person/political party would work only for vested interests.
The establishment is still in denial about the recent public uproar against corruption, mis-governance and mis-management, hoping it is just another phase and would get over soon. The least of the achievements of anti-graft leaders and organisation like India Against Corruption, Anna Hazare, Aam Aadmi party, Arvind Kejriwal and team, is that — India is united against a common enemy, after a long time (I would say after 1857).
India is at crossroads today, it has to decide whether to would walk down the path shown to us by British of divide and rule OR to turn back and make a change in not only the way we vote but the way we think and interact with the wider community. The quick fruit bearing, short-cut of divide and rule has been devised by British and taken forward by Congress; other political parties were only too enthusiastic in tweaking the idea to suit their own political purposes. It is too scary to think where this would lead India further into debt, into further division of our land, Zimbabwe like bankruptcy, Taliban / Khap Panchayat like regressive rule… or maybe something even worse. Let’s think and vote as Indians and not be divided fools. Let’s shun the politics of division, communal hatred, groupism and embrace the bright future of tomorrow by voting for togetherness, progress and inclusiveness.
The writer is Melbourne based member of Aam Aadmi Party in Australia and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0426250072