In the famous V for Vendetta comic, which eventually was made into a movie, Alex Moore made a profound statement: “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” The sentiments embedded in the statement have become the rallying cry of political protests worldwide. However, it fails to appreciate the inherent complexities of human nature.
Governments are not always evil, the wisdom of the masses is not always sound. It becomes quite evident in the case of how India treats its Muslim minority. There can be little doubt that the Indian state is scared of its Muslim population. Due to the power structures that form the basis of Muslim society, our country is held hostage by radical elements from the community whose ideology is almost exactly the same as Taliban’s or the Al Qaeda’s.
But, as implied in Moore’s statement, the Muslim community does gain a lot due to the fear it generates in the heart of the Indian state. The government, regardless of their political orientation, showers financial benefits at the community. Minority specific schemes litter the landscape of welfare, and efforts are constantly made to assuage the imagined fears of the community. No questions asked, no terms and conditions.
In fact, the more outrageous the conduct of the community, the more doles the Indian State throws at them. The more paranoid the community gets, the more incredulous the claims of their imagined fears, the more vigorously the government nods its head and throws more freebies at them. Financial benefits and minority-specific schemes are the price the Indian state pays to buy the subservience of the Muslim community toward the Indian Constitution.
However, it doesn’t quite work that way and before long, the government makes an even larger payment in the hope that this time it will work. As a wise man once said, doing the same thing under the same set of conditions involving the same set of individuals over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
It’s important to remember that the strategy of the Indian government remains the same regardless of the political party in power. The strategy of the BJP isn’t any different from Congress. Both national parties agree on this issue. Regardless of who is in power, the nature of the Indian State does not change. Since the Saffron party came into power, their main allegation against the Congress in this matter has been that the latter hasn’t implemented the minority-specific schemes well enough, that the latter used Muslims mainly for votes.
Of course, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. The relationship between the Congress party and Muslims was mutual. To pretend as if the Muslim community hasn’t been using secular parties to further their own particular agenda is to remain in denial of reality. But as usual, the Indian state is afraid, to tell the truth about its Muslim population. Muslims are always victims, victims of fate, of secular parties that exploit them and of an imaginary Hindu Fascism.
The Muslim community is not responsible for anything, not even their own actions. No one from their community, apart from the individuals concerned, is responsible for the huge number of terrorists that are produced every year, no one from the larger community is responsible for the youth who are running off to join terrorist organizations in remarkable numbers, no one apart from the mob itself is responsible for the hate crimes committed against Hindus, no one is responsible for desecrating Hindu Temples, no one is responsible for the community exercising almost a monopoly over ‘community crimes‘.
Heck, the Muslim community is not even responsible for electing the Owaisi brothers in every single election, one of which wants the Police to be withdrawn for 15 minutes so that Muslims could show Hindus who the boss is and the other who does not inflict any consequences upon his brother while lecturing others on secularism. Or so we are told by India’s ruling class. As has become clear in recent times, the entire political spectrum agrees with this, the support that toxic elements enjoy among the larger Muslim community is never to be blamed. The BJP blames secular parties for it while secular parties divide the blame between Hindu Fascism and Brahmanvaad.
Elaborating on the deficiencies of the Muslim community and emphasizing on their personal responsibility will inevitably attract the wrath of the entire establishment. Reports will surface that the supremo of the political party in power is upset with the remarks that have been made and has expressed his or her displeasure over it. Not merely the political establishment, the Judiciary, too, will spout inanities that do not appear to make much sense and resemble the sermons of cult leaders preach from their pulpits.
There is a good reason for this. The Indian state has deified a man who embodies the worst of Pacifism. The apotheosis of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi has led to the emasculation of an entire nation. Elaborating on his many follies is blasphemy. The manner in which the governments since independence have treated its Muslim community perfectly captures the essence of the Gandhian Indian State.
If someone slaps you on one cheek, gratefully offer the other. And thus it happens, after having committed genocide and driving out native Hindus from the region, Kashmiri Muslims receive a disproportionate amount of funds for welfare. In a similar vein, without any evidence to suggest that education or development changes their mindset, a vast amount of resources is allocated specifically to the minority community.
The lessons the Indian State is teaching Hindus are pretty clear: Unless you hold us hostage, we will not pay much attention to your misery. Unless you riot with remarkable frequency, threaten us with rebellion, defy and attack the Police at alarming levels, we will not take your concerns seriously. By adopting such an approach, the Indian State is providing incentives to communities to indulge in lawlessness.
After all, if major sections of the Muslim community can earn doles by continuing to threaten the Indian State and violating its laws, where is the incentive for them to reform their society? And given their religious beliefs, they perceive the doles as validation of their outrageous actions. There’s a reason why the Carrot-and-Stick strategy is so popular and the Carrot-and-Carrot approach is not.
Nonetheless, there is a lot the Hindus could learn from the Muslim community. The organizational structures, the sense of solidarity among every member of the community, the shared sense of identity, the ‘One for All and All for One’ mentality, these are indeed worthy of emulation. Why should it always be the sole responsibility of Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad to stand up for the Hindu victims of hate crimes?
Sections of the Muslim community rioted in cities across the country after a Muslim thief was allegedly lynched by Hindus. Hindus must not riot but a complete non-violent shutdown of at least the National Capital could have been attempted demanding the immediate arrests of every single Muslim who rioted and desecrated the Hindu Temple. Large scale non-violent protests could have been conducted too.
Indefinite strikes could have been a very potent strategy. Gandhian hunger-strikes would have certainly added a sense of irony in the whole situation. And yet, only eight days have passed and everyone appears to have forgotten what happened on the night of 30th June. Everyone but those who suffered the consequences of Islamic extremism.
We ought to remember that an attack on one Hindu due to his or her Hindu identity is an attack on all of us. On the last day of June, it was the residents of that lane at Old Delhi, tomorrow it could be us. If we do not stand up for them, no one will stand up for us when we eventually end up at the receiving end. There was a time when we understood such simple things. We no longer do.
Minority specific schemes and the milquetoast approach of the Indian State toward the crimes committed by members of the Muslim community are the price we pay for our own callousness. In a democracy, we expect our elected representatives to heed our concerns and be accountable to us. However, even when the vote is decidedly against policies of minority appeasement, nothing much is done on that front. It does set a dangerous precedent.
Another pervasive malady that has gripped the Hindu community is that of class interests. As Hindus have been rising beyond their caste differences to unite under a single banner, class interests have only exacerbated simultaneously. The urban elite financially secure Hindus no longer appear to care for those less fortunate than them.
What else explains the hiring of Bangladeshi illegal immigrants as domestic help by urban Hindu families? Hindus would cost a couple more thousand rupees at the most but that has long term positive impacts for the country. Not merely that, it flows into other areas as well. And as Tucker Carlson says, “The cost of having other people cut your grass is always higher than you think.”
It’s not only well-to-do Hindus that are to blame here. Every single subsection of Hindu society must bear its own burden of responsibility. Where is the sense of social solidarity? When a Hindu man was arrested in Delhi because his children were bursting crackers during Diwali, why is it that residents in the area stood-by and watched the atrocity unfolding before their eyes?
By then, of course, it was too late and preventing the Police from doing their duty would have been illegal and criminal, actions which Hindus ought not to indulge in. The protests should have come as soon as firecrackers were banned but they did not. Consider the conduct of Muslim on the other hand, they attack the Police to help hardened criminals escape.
As a consequence of the ban, the firecracker industry, run by poor Hindus primarily, suffered immensely. Why did not every section of Hindus anticipate this and the chain of events that were set in motion? Why haven’t they felt the pain of the workers in the firecracker industry whose livelihoods were effectively destroyed? The Muslims, on the other hand, fight tooth and nail to prevent the banning of disgraceful traditions like Triple Talaq. These are difficult questions which Hindu society must answer.
Hindu society is forever willing to exchange short term stability for long term prosperity. And we are paying a price for that at every step. We evaluate the conduct of governments on the basis of political partisanship, not through the prism of our shared Hindu identity. Would Hindus, who attempt to justify the minority-specific schemes of the current government, remain silent if earlier regimes had proposed them? It was said after the BJP’s massive victory in 2019 that the days of pseudo-Secularism were over. But everything since then shows that it clearly hasn’t. Nehruvian Secularism is clearly alive and it’s thriving.
Hindus must view electoral politics, not through the prism of political partisanship but our shared identity. We ought to celebrate not the victory of our preferred political parties but concrete actions that address our concerns. It doesn’t matter who wins if Nehruvian Secularism continues to run on steroids. It is perfectly legitimate to demand that the party in power respect the mandate that it received.
Hindus must put less emphasis on symbolism and more on concrete actions. The leadership of the Muslim community is never satisfied with politicians donning the skull cap and organizing Iftar parties. They demand freebies, doles and everything else that comes along with it. Only concrete actions satisfy them. Why is it then Hindus are satisfied with politicians paying a visit to Hindu Temples and Shrines across the country? Why are Hindus celebrating visits to Temples when not a single step has been taken to address the institutionalized discrimination against Hindus in the country?
Political partisanship, caste interests, class interests, all of this prevents Hindus from uniting under one banner to preserve their shared interests. Until we start thinking collectively, we cannot expect the political establishment to be subservient to our interests. The time for merely calling out the appeasement policies of the Indian state has long since past. Hindus should consider nationwide strikes. Hunger-strikes in the manner of the figurehead of the Indian state could be adopted as well, for their sense of irony. Non-cooperation movements appears a worthy tactic too.
The Indian State must consider its minority policies. It cannot afford to take the majority of the country for granted. It will inevitably lead to widespread anarchy, or worse. They must understand, these violent delights do have violent ends. The Demographic time-bomb is already ticking in the Northeastern regions of the country.