Vantage point

Monday, July 15, 2002

After the unreal and refreshing victory at Lord's, one conversation brought me firmly back to terra firma.

I was chatting with this friend, let's call him "Y". I asked him if he saw the match, and guess what his first reaction was?

"Now I think there are atleast 2 good muslims in the world- Zaheer Khan and Mohammad Kaif".

I don't know about you, but I find this statement very saddening. Inspite of everything, all our education and awareness, that's all that we judge people by- religion! When Y saw Kaif fighting back and hitting those sixes, or when he saw Zaheer Khan take those wickets and stay there to score the winning run, he did not see human beings, or even Indians. He saw "muslims", that is all. As if they needed to validate their patriotism or commitment to him.

I am too disgusted by this attitude to say anything much. People speak about ghetto-isation of our cities, where hindus and muslims are slowly moving to separate neighbourhoods. However, this is a worse danger, the ghetto-isation of the mind where we compartmentalize the entire population into religion and caste. And they need not be terrorists, they could be lawyers, doctors, or heroic cricketers. that's all we can identify them as. Yuvraj Singh- hindu, and Mohammad Kaif- muslim, Ashish Nehra- hindu, Zaheer Khan- muslim.

We are playing into the hands of the mullahs and the sanghis by doing this to ourselves. What do we want, a Balkanisation of the country?

I think there is hope. I think people like Y are in a minority, and most Indians are still secular and broadminded in their outlook, not narrow minded bigots.

Am I right?