It is a wonderful, wonderful thing that the Nobel Peace Prize this year has gone to Nadia Murad. She had been taken as a slave by Islamists the day they raided her village in Sinjar in Northern Iraq and massacred 600 Yazidis. Her story is as shocking as it is eventually uplifting, a triumph of the human spirit over absolute evil in the face of impossible odds.
Nadia Murad is a hero. The world is celebrating her.
But even as the media gushed yesterday telling us the story of Nadia’s life, I couldn’t help but wonder: how does it all matter? Does a Nobel Prize to one Nadia Murad compensate for everything that happened to the Yazidis who perished under the Islamic state? What was the world doing to fight Islamism at the time and what has the world done since that day to fight Islamism?
My concerns were backed up by worries of my own, about Hindus of India, especially those of Assam, Bengal and certain other parts of Western Uttar Pradesh.
The Hindus and Sikhs of Pakistan were tormented until almost all of them converted, fled or were killed. They say that there will not be a single Hindu left in Bangladesh in 30 years. Inside the Republic of India, the Hindus of Kashmir have lost their homes to Islamism already.
Does anyone really believe that one day Hindus will be able to return to Kashmir? The question is: who is next?
So, I couldn’t help wondering: does it really matter if 50 years from now they give a Nobel Peace Prize to the last surviving Hindu from Assam or Bengal or Kashmir? What are we doing to ensure that they can live a life of dignity today?
By throwing at us a whole bunch of Nehruvian nonsense, Indian liberals have always sought to discredit the yearning for a Hindu state. But the need for a Hindu nation is very real. Like the Jews, Hindus have been oppressed and humiliated for centuries. This led to the rise of Zionism, the desire to have one country where Jews would always be safe knowing that they are a majority. The Zionists had no desire to build some kind of Caliphate and rule over the world. They just wanted one piece of land, just one country where they could live with dignity.
After 1000 years of oppression and after the partition of India on religious lines, we Hindus have every right to have a Hindu state. One country where we know Hindus would always be safe. It’s a legitimate demand and in many ways a basic need for survival. Don’t let any ‘liberal’ tell you otherwise.
Now, the idea of a ‘Hindu nation’ has been so systematically maligned for 70 years across all levels of media, academia and intelligentsia that one needs to explain what a Hindu nation is not. A Hindu nation doesn’t mean trampling on the rights of those who do not consider themselves to be Hindus. Nor does it mean a repudiation of that much-abused word in Indian politics: secularism.
Again, Israel is the best example. The State of Israel is by far the most democratic and secular in the Middle East, an open society with high level of gender equality, not just tolerant but accepting and welcoming towards homosexuals, as well as a global leader in science and technology. Don’t forget that almost 20% of Israel’s population is that of Arab Muslims, who have exactly the same rights in Israel like everyone else. Ironically, Arab Muslims living in Israel can vote, can enjoy the freedom of speech, expression and religion, something that they can’t do anywhere else in that part of the world.
What a Hindu nation means is that we protect our culture, our history and our democratic and secular values against all aggressors, both internal and external.
Examples of external aggression would be illegal immigration from Bangladesh (and recently of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar) or foreign-sponsored missionary mafia attempting mass conversions.
Examples of internal aggression would be what happened to the Hindus of Kashmir. Or Naxals who seek to destroy our Republic and impose Mao’s Communist ideology.
Internal aggression also includes systematic attempts to malign Hindu beliefs and traditions in the eyes of the world, creating imaginary divisions within the Hindu fold, deliberate falsification of our history as well as overruling basic property rights of Hindus through a perverted reading of the secular law.
For example, a highly reputed international magazine recently published an article claiming that the Amarnath Yatra is a form of “weaponization” by the Hindus against Muslims of the Kashmir valley! This is nothing but a canard against Hindus. Efforts to smear the sacred “Om” symbol by morphing it into a Nazi hooked cross, creating global paranoia around an image of Hanuman, etc, are all examples of such internal aggression.
A Hindu nation would invest in a robust intellectual majority to resist such attempts to malign our culture in the eyes of the world. And yes, a Hindu nation would have a temple at Ram Janmabhoomi. A real temple, not one that is under the control of the government.
Far from being a Hindu nation, we Hindus today are in such a sorry state that we have to beg for equal citizenship rights. Such as the right to keep our temples and schools from being surrounded, seized and taken over by the government. And not enough Hindus care about that either.
We would all love to live in a Utopia where everyone is open and tolerant and accepting, where people and ideas flow freely. I would sign up for such a world in half a second if I could. We could keep our doors open all the time. But I did not build this world, I just live in it.
And till we have a better world, we need a Hindu nation here in India. Equal rights for Hindus in India would be a good beginning.
We have to choose between surviving as a civilization and a Nobel Peace Prize, one hundred years from now, to the last remaining Hindu.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.