Vantage point

Wednesday, May 15, 2002


I want to talk about my friend, let's call him XY. XY comes from a well to do family with an excellent educational backroung. Father from IIT, mother a college professor. He himself has always been good at studies and has recently got an admit to one of the top 10 universities in USA. He prefers F1 to cricket, english movies to Bollywood stuff, rock bands to ghazals, in short more Westernised in his likes than Indianised.

The reason I mention him is a conversation I had with him a few days ago. We were talking about the Gujarat issue and I was shocked out of my wits when he said - "You know, I feel happy that these muslims are dying. They are getting what they deserve." This really shocked me. I asked him what was the fault of those innocent families of Ahmedabad and Vadodara in the Godhra carnage. Shouldn't the guilty be punished? He didn't see much weight in that argument and seemed to be of the opinion that it the community which has committed that Godhra massacre and not individuals. He seems to have developed that "us-and-them" mental boundary that seems to be on the rise.

Touchwood, Pune has never been witness to any communal frenzy. The two communities live here in perfect harmony. XY was born and brought up in Pune and never known the real meaning of the words 'curfew', '144', 'lathi charge' etc. For many years, his neighbours were muslims and so was his best friend. They are still his friends. So there is no animosity between them to account for his communal outlook. Where did it come from then?

What makes an otherwise gentle and benign guy like XY speak so callously and cruelly of 950 deaths ? Infact he seems to be glad that they happened. Mind you, he does not support the temple movement either. he is not a devout Rambhakt who insists "mandir wahi banayenge". Then why?

I think the people who are attempting to balkanise India are succeeding. They are rapidly demarcating mental boundaries. Today it is hindu-muslim. Tomorrow it will be brahmin-dalit. Later it will be marathi-gujarati. Where will this end? And everyone is at fault. The RSS, SIMI, Bajrang Dal, AIMPLB, VHP, everyone. Not a single orgnaisation speaks of one-ness. The SP and BSP speak of secularism, but they also thrive on the hatred against upper castes. No one wants the Indians to think of themselves as Indians. We are busy constructing boundaries. The people inside, my people, are my Indians. Those outside, even if they burn for no fault of there's "had it coming", simply because they are not inside the boundaries.

I hope I never go the XY way. I hope people like XY see the light. They should realise that secularism is different from muslim-pampering. Real secularism has nothing to do with politics, it is a state of mind. And if you can't feel grief for inhuman atrocities on someone simply because he/she is of a specific community, you should probably leave this country and settle in the cosy US. Cos there, you will be a minority and hopefully learn the values of equality and secularism.