Vantage point

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Grain of Truth

The word "pseudo-secularism" is often thrown around by saffronites. Most of the time, it is a mindless pejorative. It pins some sort of a malicious intent even on neutral commentators, and serves as just a pointless personal attack. And usually when such an attack comes, the debate degenerates into mud-slinging.

However there is an element of truth in at least the observations. A lot of neutral commentators in the press and otherwise may not be part of some grand plan to lay all the blame at the door of the saffronites. But we do tend to be a lot harsher on the saffronites.

I am not saying that the saffronites don't deserve blame. They do. They are absolute scum. But we do not see the non-saffron fundamentalists getting the same amount of flak from the english media or much of the english-speaking population.

Take Mulayam for instance. The first ever Hindu-Muslim riots in Lucknow during Bush's visits were completely engineered by him. That the riots did not spread is a credit to the people of Lucknow. But if Modi deserves flak for standing by as mobs go inflicting terror on innocent people, Mulayam does too. And still, how many editorials or op-eds did you see taking Mulayam apart for the Lucknow riots? How many bloggers wrote about him?

Why go to Lucknow? Let's stay within the state of Maharashtra. Look at what happened at Bhiwandi. The whole riot flared up without any involvement from Shiv Sena or any other saffronites. The local muslims were incensed that a police station was being built close to their cemetary. They had a scuffle with the police. The police lathi-charged and opened fire on the mob. Two people died. Next day, 2 policemen were lynched and burnt by a mob as they were returning home.

And yet, how many editorials were written? How many op-eds were written? Who paid tribute to the cops? I know I didn't. I ran a google blogsearch for "bhiwandi". I found only 3 bloggers who had written about the incident in detail. All three were out-and-out right-wingers. No supposedly liberal, secular blogger (and I count myself in that category) had written about it.

So my question to all of us enlightened people is, why do we seem to need involvement of the saffron monster to make us react with maximum outrage? Why don't we blast non-saffron instances of fundamentalism with equal fervour?

If we don't blast Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Bhiwandi mobs, or the Kerala assembly which passed a resolution for releasing Abdul Nasser Madani, then we leave a vacuum for the right-wingers to do so. And they will do so obviously, but with a rightist tilt. Then we leave the stage open for "esteemed" gentlemen like Francois Gautier, Rajeev Srinivasan, etc to indulge in their own brand of rabble-rousing.

The charges of pseudo-secularism are almost always malicious, exaggerated, insulting, and hot-headed. But there is a grain of truth in them, and there is a need for introspection.