Religious Nationalism rears its ugly head in India again

February 4, 2010

Having followed the last few days of political drama in India, I am wondering about whether India’s claim to being the largest democracy in the world can truly be  justified. When political thugs like the Shiv Sena party can phone up film distributors and threaten them  with dire consequences if they distribute Shah Rukh Khan’s latest film, just because the actor expressed an opinion about Pakistani cricket players, and an inoffensive one at that, and not face the wrath of the law, what is this saying about the rule of law in the nation? It implies that anyone can engage in hate speech, incite people to violence and get away with it.

Representatives of the Shiv Sena party are getting very possessive about Mumbai, after the terrorist attacks of 26 / 11/ 09 and are feeling very hurt about anyone who even remotely suggests that India should have anything to do with Pakistan, given that the attacks on Mumbai were perpetrated by Pakistani based terrorists. But why do these same folk not get worked up about those people who brought the culture of terrorism and political violence to the Indo-pak sub-continent in the first place, viz the British imperialists. I personally have nothing against the Brits, but the truth is that the kind of attacks on India, that are being perpetrated today are really the legacy of the deliberate Hindu Muslim divide set up by the colonialists, hence leading to the splitting of a country, which should never have happened in the first place. Anyone who then engages in any discourse around India / Pakistan, and the possibility of co-operation between the two territories,  is then subject to some kind of bizarre test of Patriotism, ie, condemn Pakistan or condemn India, or else ! Why for God’s sake, must it come down to such dichotomies, and either / or politics ? Pakistanis are effectively Indians too, who had a border forced between themselves and their original motherland. Some 60 years and several unnecessary wars later,  and the two territories are supposedly sworn enemies.

There can clearly be no justification for terrorism, and it should never be tolerated, but should people like the Shiv Sena be allowed to resort to their own form of terrorism,  try and couch it within the framework of patriotism, and not be held accountable for it? How is it patriotic to threaten fellow citizens and try to stop them from going about their daily business? And then ask them to apologise for exercising their democratic rights ?

Its a sad day when religious nationalism and chauvinsim rears its ugly head, and is then not challenged and exposed for what it is. Is this the beginning of the end for Indian democracy ?

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On Ethnic Discrimination

June 7, 2009

So I’ve been following the story about Indian students studying in Australia being beaten up regularly over the last few weeks, by the local Australians and I’m wondering what the deal is here. Some Australian guy commented that actually its “poor” Australian youth beating up poor Indian students. Huh?

I’m reminded of the xenophobic attacks that went on here in SA, last year, and I tried hard to understand, whether it was poverty that was driving those attacks (given that it was largely black / African people attacking and killing other black / African people) or whether it was ethnicism / nationalism.  It was even more outrageous, when some SA men started saying that people of other nationalities deserved being treated like that, because they are stealing jobs and women from the local men. Huh again? I think that must have been the most shameful point in our post-apartheid history as a society.

Why can’t people just get along ? Sigh !