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  India   All India  11 Dec 2017  It’s time to correct misperceptions about Indian secularism

It’s time to correct misperceptions about Indian secularism

THE ASIAN AGE. | NILOFAR SUHRAWARDY
Published : Dec 11, 2017, 12:14 am IST
Updated : Dec 11, 2017, 12:14 am IST

Demolition of Babri Masjid was not an indicator of entire Hindu community having become communal.

A view of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in October 1990. Several rallies and demostrations were organised in country on the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the mosque. (Photo: PTI)
 A view of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in October 1990. Several rallies and demostrations were organised in country on the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the mosque. (Photo: PTI)

December 6, 2017 has passed by with hardly a whimper of what this date witnessed in 1992. Rather, it may not be wrong to say that several anniversaries of this date have passed by similarly. This is today’s India. A phase, when a rudimentary analysis indicates, quite a few are not aware of what this day was marked by. Yes, demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, was accompanied by communal outrage across the country. The communal activists were labelled by Western media as Hindu terrorists. It did not take long for secular image of the country to be tarnished across the world. Today also, the world doesn’t take long to accord a negative image to the entire country when a few communal incidents take place.

It would be ideal if India did not witness a single communal incident, labelled as cow-lynching, murder of any journalist for daring to speak/write against communal extremists and if discriminatory bias was not entertained by extremist elements against several communities on account of their religion, caste and so forth. These communal elements, however, do not represent the common Indian.

 

The average, common Indian has never really been as communal as s/he has been projected to be. If this was true, India would not have remained a secular nation. It is time, some misperceptions about Indian secularism were corrected. Let us accept it, political developments are witness to demolition of Babri Masjid being primarily a political agenda of some extremist elements. The preceding years, following demolition of Babri Masjid, are not witness to increase in importance of the controversial Ayodhya issue for the average Indian. It is not without reason that prior to stepping onto the national stage in 2014 parliamentary elections, Narendra Modi chose to don the secular mask.

 

True, India still remains witness to communal incidents. But this is one side of this phase. The other side indicates that secular voices of Indians have not been silenced. Rather, demonstrations organised by them regarding Muslims being deliberately targeted in the name of cow-lynching, journalists being assassinated for choosing to voice their secular stands and so forth are just a mild indicator of strength still retained by Indian secularism. Give a thought and compare the nature of these secular demonstrations with that of communal incidents India remains witness to.

The secular Indians have displayed no inhibitions in thousands gathering with anti-communal posters, banners and other signs in different parts of the country. In contrast, the cow-lynching cases, assassination of journalists and other similar communal activities have largely been organised discreetly. The same maybe said about recent case of a Muslim having been burnt to death allegedly by extremist elements in Rajasthan. While the former have received substantial media coverage of a positive nature, the latter have been criticised fairly strongly.

 

The extremist elements are apparently well aware of the negative aftermath of their communal activities. It is possible that this has prompted them to start giving greater importance to circulation of videos of their indulgence in communal activities. Their prime agenda apparently remains polarisation of Indian community and provoke communal riots. The phase when Indians could be blinded to the stage of communal frenzy desired by these extremist elements has, it seems, ceased to prevail.

The attempts being made to distort Indian history may also be viewed a communal drive. How can it be missed that despite centuries of Muslim rule, Muslims remain a minority community here. In the same vein, if the entire Hindu community was communally oriented, India would not have remained home to second largest Muslim population in the world. In other words, for centuries, the two communities have co-existed without their religious differences surface as barriers between them. Yes, there have been dark phases when these have surfaced but in most cases these communal drives were deliberately engineered by external elements.

 

Besides, demolition of Babri Masjid was not an indicator of entire Hindu community having become communal. Less than a percentage of country’s population actually participated in this activity. This point is further supported by participation of Hindus in greater number than other communities, including Muslims, in anti-communal, secular demonstrations.

Clearly, India would not have probably remained a secular nation if this notion was not supported by majority community. Also, the common Indian in today’s age is more concerned about his source of income than communal drive of extremist elements. Some credit must be given to their approach, with several anniversaries of December 6, 1992 having passed without the communal outrage which 1992 witnessed.

 

And this is simply a pointer to the fact that whatever are plans of saffron brigade regarding Ayodhya issue and their Hindutva drive, they still are devoid of national strength. It is time they understood and accept the fact that they do not represent any community on religious grounds. Those who are aware of what December 6, 1992 is marked by remember it largely as a black day in India’s history. The new generation is hardly aware of its socio-political dimensions. Secularism was not demolished on December 6, 1992. December 6, 2017 bears testimony to this!

The writer is a senior journalist. She has come out with two books Ayodhya Without the Communal Stamp and Image and Substance: Modi’s First Year in Office

 

Tags: hindutva, babri masjid, narendra modi