In today’s Hindu, there is an article by name ‘Salman Rushdie & India’s new theocracy’ by some guy by name Praveen Swami. First of all, Hindu, again proved that it has got nothing except one of the best English in the world and forceful atheism.
The writer has started writing the article trying to blame the state and central governments for not allowing Salman Rushdie into India. And immediately, in a line or two, he starts to implement the standard definition of secularism in India – Hindu bashing. If you want to write something, then I would prefer you proof read for all absurdities before publishing.
First, coming to the point, Salman Rushdie, whoever he may be, is an NRI by definition, even if his family moved to Pakistan and he has every right to come to his motherland. Satanic Verses is not such a great book to read. Had no one thought about it, it would have died a slow death if it is not good. But, in the meanwhile, some Mullah said it should be banned and condemned the writer to death. No one knows if that person, Ayatollah Khomeini read that book or not. Because he said it to be banned, anti-Muslim ideologues and the so-called seculars started reading the book, thereby boosting it’s sales.
First of all, if he knows that his visit is going to create a controversy, he should not think of coming to the country for the benifit of all. It’s always a selective few who whip up the public sentiment and anything can happen in an ochlocracy. In case of a chaos, none but Rushdie is to be blamed, even if he is the wronged by condemning him to a punishment greater than what he deserved, if at all he deserved. Showing solidarity to one hounded is correct, but that doesnot mean that you can sacrifice the greater good.
Second, political utilization of religion in India. Everyone will accept that the current political system has ensured that India’s infinite fault lines are more widened, but not erased. That can be anything – religion against religion, caste against caste, rich against poor, community against community, whipping sentiments on the basis of region and domicile, thus ensuring that their vote banks stay intact. This is compounded with corruption, bureaucracy and apathy to public enlightenment. It’s said that Gokhale told Gandhi not to mix religion and politics. We know the consequence of what happens if we do this by experience. It’s said that Jinnah was the only major Indian politician who opposed Khilafat movement. It’s also said that Jinnah is considered to be the last Indian politician to eplore for viable ways to avoid partition. Where Subhas Bose succeeded spectacularly, Congress and the Muslim League failed utterly. And they are still banking on it. And so are the other parties which are born at a later date. Very few, especially in the current generation of politics, are genuinely interested in the welfare of the people. Identify the unifying bonds of India, not the divisive ones. Accept that it’s Indian culture and not Hindu culture as India’s ethos, conscious or sub-conscious, is defined by it’s Hindu origins. We Hindus think touching a person with foot is denigrating and even if we accidentally touch someone with our feet, we subconsciously ask for apologies. How many Muslims or Christians will not do that? Do they treat it as a relic of Hinduism or something adapted from Hinduism? Atleast, the author touched this point rationally.
Third, the area where the author failed to address rationally was the money spent on religious occassions. Paying for Hajj or Manassarovar Yatra is wrong. Why should the government pay for some person’s spiritual travels outside the country? This is correct. But comparing this with the expenditure for logistics for Kumbh Mela is not. You are expecting some millions of people to gather at a particular area. It becomes mandatory for the government to ensure basic public hygeine, security, maintenance of law and order. The sole purpose of a government is to provide for public amenities, hygeine, security, law and order and nothing more. If public demand this for an incident, the government has got no right to reject this. If the government is not spending the rest of the money proportionately, then it’s the fault of the government. It’s not that incident which demands money which is to blame. Spending money on maintaining old temples, providing money for religious organizations is notihing to complain about. If you are an athiest, treat it as an old monument of national importance and treat a religious organization as a charity. Which religious organization in India doesnot feed the poor?
Fourth, I want to eat pork in a mosque. I am not allowed even though I am not a Muslim. That’s against tradition. It’s blasphemy even to think of. If tradition says to maintain sanctity of a palce, why should we say that it’s a faulty argument? Drinking is not a part of Indian culture. Cow’s meat is prohibited for Hindus. What’s the point in supporting two troublemongers when the complete town itself has accepted the fact that meat and wine are prohibited in that town?
My personal opinion on this article is if you are aiming at religion bashing, then do it consistenly for all the religion. If you want to target Hindus or any other religion, then mention clearly and we will not read the article at all.