On the onset, this discussion is not an attempt to lay blame or just discuss for the heck of it. I believe there are brilliant minds out there, both Indian & otherwise. I believe that even a common man, not just politicians, policy makers, experts can come up with solutions to problems. I believe that collectively, we can make a significant change for the better.
This is my take on what has brought India to the current situation we are in. Many of you may not agree or may actually agree. But my motive not for us to debate this, but to find a solution to the problem at hand, as individuals. So please abstain from:
1) Blaming the ineptitude of the government
2) Correcting my perception of the situation. If that is what you want to do, start another blog.
3) Condemning Hindus/Muslims. I am not interested in this & WILL remove any such remarks made on my blog.
However, please do feel free to post solutions & debate on solutions others have provided.
I can't comment on a period before the Ayodhya issue, because this is my first concrete memory of an actual Hindu-Muslim divide in my life. I am a Hindu who grew up in a rather secular environment. I have many friends who are Muslims & Christians & yes, definitely had at least one Sikh classmate. Our school was run by a Muslim. The school in Bangalore is still coveted for its excellence in education & secular practices.
I vividly remember celebrating many festivals of religions we even only just read in History books- guess our teachers though it was kind of fun way to teach us respect for different cultures & to live in harmony with our obviously different neighbors. I'd like to believe I have learnt this lesson well- even to date my three closest friends are a Muslim, a Hindu & a Christian. A Muslim friend of my husband stays with us here in Dubai. He eats what we cook, spends weekends with us, practices his religion to his satisfaction & we ours. Life can be good if we don't get insecure about our religion.
Going back to the Ayodhya issue, I think of it like a mad scientist's experiment gone horribly wrong. I see it as a ploy by the Indian political party, Bharatiya Janatha Party, to get the votes of 80% of India's Hindu population or atleast, that section of the 80% Hindu population that worried more about religion than human lives. Closed, uneducated minds who could very easily swayed by saying- "look around you- muslims are growing in numbers, soon they will overtake us, where will we Hindus be after this? We Hindus are not against birth control, but they don't use birth control- why? So that they can soon overtake us" These are not just quotes I came up with, but propaganda that I have heard being spread. Many like me ignores such remarks, but I can imagine how it can sway majority of our population.
This is what Wikipedia says about Ram Janmabhoomi:
"In 12th century, a temple complex is built in honour of Lord Ram
In 1528, the Babri Masjid is constructed on the orders of the Mughal leader Babur post destruction of existing ram mandir.
In 1949, idols of Lord Ram appeared in the Babri Masjid. The semi-governmental Wakf Board, an Indian Muslim trust owned the land on which the mosque stood. Both Hindu and Muslim parties launch civil suits and the Indian government, declaring the site "disputed", locks the gates to the mosque.
In 1984, a movement is started for the creation of Ram Janmabhoomi temple by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, under the leadership of L K Advani.
In 1986, a district judge of Uttar Pradesh, orders the opening of the disputed structure to Hindus. This, allegedly, came from the Congress government which tried to balance the favour shown to the Muslims in Shah Bano controversy.
In 1989- 1990, the VHP intensifies its activities by laying foundations of the Ram temple on the adjacent property. Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar proposes negotiations which only intensify the crisis.
In 1992, on December 6, the Structure is forcibly demolished by Kar Sevaks. The then Narasimha Rao led Congress government let a makeshift temple appear in its place before moving the courts for status quo. The demolition of the mosque triggered large-scale rioting.
In 2005 Kashmiri terrorists attacked the Ram Mandir and were gunned down by security forces (for more information see Ram Mandir Attack)."
So, yeah, they broke down Babri Masjid, which, to our young minds was more of a National Monument- forget what the Muslim rulers did or did not do when they ruled our nations centuries ago, but who the hell wants to take revenge now, after some 500 years for some atrocity committed way long back & that too by breaking down a building???? Not me & not any of my friends for sure! We din't care much about this Advani dude either, his agenda never seemed to go beyond Ram Janmabhoomi to real issues in India! Hell broke loose in December that year. What we heard from Hindu villagers who stayed nearby was that if we Hindus don't consolidate our strength & show the Muslim whose country they are living in, Muslims will take over. Sounded stupid to my 14 year old mind then, still does! They indiscriminately attacked the Muslim community in our area. Attackers were largely uneducated youngsters, maybe 16-20 years of age. One of my muslim classmate lost her mother that night- she suffered a heart attack when fleeing the attack on their house. A really sad time in our young lives indeed. I could not understand why my friends were being targeted.
Thus Black Friday was born. Attacks across the country on Muslim Minorities. All a ploy of BJP, who used VHP & RSS to just garner votes??? Was it worth it? I din't think so! Remember that stupid Rath Yatra BJP carried out during its election campaign? How in the world was something like that allowed in Secular India???? From then on, things have slowly spiraled into what I would like to term as the Muslim Terrorism caused by Fundamentalist Hindus. Unwittingly, Hindus who wanted to establish hierarchy over the Muslim minority by way of making them insecure in their own land & lives, pushed them to react. Young minds always easily fall prey to propaganda. Many did! Today, we hear about Indian Mujahideen, Deccan Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Jehad, etc, etc, etc.... Not names I grew up with with, but definitely names that will stay with my children, unfortunately.
All reactions of a cornered society. All sponsored by Muslims outside India & within - their objective- to stop the Hindus from carrying out atrocities against the Muslims. Hindus react through Godhra Violence, Malegaon Blasts & voila, we have a response through serial attacks across the metros, Assam blasts, World Trade centre attack, n what not. And now that Mumbai is under attack, I dunno what our dear Hindu Fundamentals are planning to show the Muslim Minority whose country this is. Are we trying to be another Palestine & Israel? Can't we just stop this fight?
Looking at Bangalore now, I only see people who are all scared of their own security & suspicious of their neighbors. A sad reminder that violence never solved problems. And as if we din't already have enough problems to deal with, the latest agenda is to attack Christian Churches & show our muscle power over Christians? I mean, why???? Today, we have "terrorists" among our midst. They could be a Hindu or a Muslim. Their motive is to protect their religious identity/ take revenge for what people from the other religion did to them/ whatever else. Unwittingly they are also playing into the hands of evil forces who would like to see India divided, its economy crippled, the country rift in unsolvable problems. We are one of the BRIC countries! That's a definite threat to many other countries who perceive it as a problem.
We have some really big problems at hand. Some of them listed below. I want us to put our minds together to come up with FEASIBLE & quick solutions to these problems. The agenda is to take this through our collective networks to the right authorities to make them take action. I am unclear as of now how this can be done. But I am guessing that each of our social network has enough potential to reach at least one leader, political or otherwise with a vision to set things right & power to do so. We are all thinkers & problem solvers in our work life. Are we dedicated citizens who want to take responsibility to set things right before it is too late?
Please, once again I appeal to each of you: this is not a blog to react & say, I don't agree with your point of view. I don't care if you do or don't. My motive is to get solutions from each of you. This blog is not for you to react & say politicians have failed, etc, etc. No CRITISISM, a lot of energy has been wasted on that- Only solutions.
Problems at hand:
Terrorist Outfits: They are everyday people. People we live & work with. Often educated but misled: people arrested for the Delhi Bomb Blasts, Malegaon attack, shokingly even people entrusted with responsibility of defending our country against attacks- people from the military forces. How do we tackle this problem? We have had enough peace marches but that hasn't worked, we need some strategic solution to teach our youth the secular way of life. Any thoughts on how this can be done?
Sad state of security in Indian metros: There is always an encounter when trying to flush out terrorists who have taken innocents hostanges- where are negotiators to solve problems peacefully & amicably? Are outdated weapons & methods being used to tackle terrorists with sofisticated technology? We have been living with increasing incidents of terror attacks in cities over the last 4-5 years, what steps have been taken by the government to make our security forces competent to handle crisis situations- security cameras, technology updation, training? Can we citizens set up neighborhood watches to watch out for suspicious activity? How do we go about it?
Is media being irresponsible? Watch the news between now & the next terror attack. Why does terrorism melt to the background once the sensational attacks are over? Why do they show dead people with such utter disregard to human dignity? The coverage of the dead in Delhi bomb blasts still haunt me. It wasn't necessary to show that! It achieved nothing, it wasn't news that made sense to me! They know they have the power to make opinions. But why do they misuse it to get get TRP ratings & advertisements? Why are their debates always inconclusive & never lend to any positive action, either in our minds or in the way policy makers & governments take action? Why don't they dog our leaders to take action? They do have greater freedom in our country thanks to freedom of speech!
Why do we Indian Citizens always criticise & never act? Can we do something more than mud slinging? Can we come up with solutions & make our leaders act on them? Have we every addressed issues to our elected leaders? To start with, who is our local MLA, leave alone MP's & state & central government officials? Do we know our duties & rights as citizens?
Joining hands with liberal muslims to combat the problems together: So, there was a fatwa declared against terrorism condeming it as un-Islamic, by Indian Muslim Clerics. I have come across many blogs criticising this move as a hypocritic & feeble stand by the Indian Muslims. As usual, we were being thoroughly Indian, criticising the move & doing little else. We now have an opportunity to join hands to like minded Muslims to tackle our collective issues. Let's recall Omar Abdulla's speech in the parliament on the day of the trust vote:
“I am a Muslim and I am an Indian, and I see no distinction between the two. I don’t know why should I fear the nuclear deal. It is a deal between two countries which, I hope, will become two equals in the future. The enemies of Indian Muslims are not America or deals like these. The enemies are the same as the enemies of all those who are poor — poverty, hunger, lack of development and the absence of a voice….”
I agree with him & I am looking to hear from like minded individuals who believe a solution can be reached together. Let's figure out a way to support the Fatwa in our own Hindu/Christian/Sikkh/Buddist way if we must, but let's focus on concrete results instead of just making ourselves heard.
I may not have expressed our problems sufficiently। Please feel free to add to this। And collectively, let's get this movement rolling. Today's India is India of the people. We have worked to make this country a BRIC nation. Our achievements have made a difference to the way many Indians in India & across the world live. Let's be proud of that fact. & let's take up the larger responsibilities that we have as citizens of a toubled nation today. Please, let's make a difference. I want my children to be as happy & as proud of our country as I was. I am hoping I am not alone in this dream.
I am going to be inviting non-Indians to discuss this as well. A third party perspective always helps, everyone always have their own personal biases. Some of it might be plain unpleasant & might hurt us. I am hoping that does not happen, but on a blog, its something we might never have control over. Please do not take anything posted on this blog personally.
Waiting to hear from you all.