Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak to all friends and family!
After deliberation with some friends, I have chosen to put out a (long) piece that expresses my thoughts and point of view on a sensitive subject. Please respect my opinion (as ill-informed as it may be). I know this could evoke responses and commentary; I will reciprocate with respecting the same as your point of view. Please do not be offended if I chose not to respond though. Thanks!
Now that we have the Bihar elections behind us, hopefully, the politicking on either side of the “beef issue” will die down. Some of us have spent quite some time, in the past few weeks, dividing up our friends and family, into the Left and into the Right. The good news is that our culture is a resilient one and will withstand that, and things will be normal between us all, in a matter of days…
But, here’s something for you to chew on, Mr. Modi, and yes, Saal Mubarak!
This is a time for deep reflection for you, Mr. Modi. The inaction/silence you maintained in the aftermath of Dadri seems to have back fired for you in Bihar. There may be other factors, but this one does jump out, all too conspicuously, coincidentally and (for my sake) conveniently. Good time for you to realize that your primary job is being Prime Minister of the Nation, and not the Prime Marketer for the BJP (or the RSS for that matter, albeit surreptitiously). You may now stop campaigning and focus on the work at hand and the future of all those inspirational programs that you have envisioned for Mera Bharat Mahaan!
It is obvious to us, on either side of the great divide (of the Left and the Right), that you Mr. Modi enjoy “being the leader”; you are not shy to the camera, you like the fan fare, the following… and, I have no doubt, that you are a patriot, and would love to leave the PMO one day with a legacy of being the chief architect of one of 21st century’s greatest nations.
Well then, Mr. Modi, here’s your chance… the opportunity is right here and now.
You can choose to let this game of one-upmanship and this “tit for tat” ideology go on, forever – win some elections here and lose some there backed by radical elements, OR be a statesman NOW, and change the course of where India goes, from this point on. You can be that leader if you so chose to be.
Humor me for a moment, if you will, with my over simplification of our subcontinent’s spiritual history:
“Hinduism” has never been a religion and, as far as I know, was never meant to be one. It was a “philosophy of life” that helped deal with the vagaries along life’s journey and taught us how to live in harmony with the universe, and its elements. “Hinduism” was something that originated and belonged to the subcontinent, survived invasions and encroachments but remained steadfast in its spirit of tolerance, inclusion, free exchange and adaptive evolution. Barring small skirmishes, this region never experienced any major “religious” conflicts or genocides because the philosophy did not have firm doctrines and dogmas that could polarize.
The “Hindus”, people from this culture and sub-continent, were an “evolved” lot that lived on a philosophy that was much like “open source”; it gave and took, shared, and was inclusive, while continuing to adopt, adapt and evolve. “Organized Hinduism”, as a religion, began to take form only after exposure to institutionalized religions that came to or originated in the sub-continent… But even with that, for the large part, the openness of the culture was what was dominant and let those new religions assimilate into the fabric of society and tolerance was still the norm in this region.
Sure, there were some rogue elements all through modern history and we had our share in the royalty, both Mughal and Hindu, that sold hatred in the name of religion, in the interest of imperial gain, but this was a region that survived all that, and later, the colonial “divide and rule” policy. There were instances of exploitation in the name of religion by the colonial rulers but it was not till the India-Pakistan partition when the communal divide became that prominent. Somewhere, along the line, fringe elements like the RSS started promoting “Hindutva”, and began to provide a political ideology that was a counter/alternative to the then “secular” and now “sickular” ideology, so politicians grabbed it to differentiate. It will be an exercise in futility (chicken/egg) to determine which ideology came first, so let’s move past that. We fell for the vote bank politics of the Congress for 60 years since independence, and your party used the same divisive politics and contributed to your party gaining power in the remaining years (except, after the Emergency). There is no two ways about that- you have used “hate mongering” to garner votes. Even with all that, the fact remains that your party has come into power more often due to Congress’ own undoing, than your own merit. I’m saying that the divisive technique contributed, but was not the reason for your coming into power, ever!
Point is, Mr. Modi, this was and is, predominantly a sub continent of tolerant people that has begun to line up, in a small measure, behind hard lined ideologies that your party brought into the mainstream. It is not a large majority, but you did win a few people over. These ideologies are now trying to change the nature of who we are as a people, and it is obviously not working. Bihar is just a small indicator, but indeed, a wake up call if you care to take heed. Sir, please smell the roses!
Ditch RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, ditch Amit Shah (he has run beyond his usefulness), and ditch allies like Shiv Sena right NOW. Ditch the radical elements within your own party. Stop wearing “Hindutva” on your sleeve (among other labels) that demonstrate your arrogance, and serve with humility. If you are indeed a “Sevak”, please assume that role in earnest.
In trying to fight the Congress and their vote bank politics, you forgot the real reason India had not met its potential. It is corruption, and not a particular religion(s) or a neighboring country, Mr. Modi. Don’t take the gripe you have against the Congress, unto the people that party appeased and feigned to serve for so many years.
You, Mr. Modi, have a mandate and an opportunity like no other Indian leader in recent times, to bury the hatchet, once and for all. People are marveled by your charismatic speeches, and your catchy slogans; only since, MKG, have people begun to buy the marketing and rally around such a vision. Are you going to resort to a “tit for tat” ideology under the influence of those radical/fringe elements, or are you going to take a serious stand for growth, and development (“Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”)? You are at cross roads of history, and the world has its eyes upon you. It is your choice to make. Stand up against these elements, and demonstrate that you’re serious about inclusive growth and magically, even the Rajya Sabha will pave the way for your development programs. They will not have a choice, but you need to first exercise your political will.
The Indian public has a discerning eye, and will ensure you’re re-elected but you need to focus on the job at hand, and keep the radical elements at bay… it’s that simple. It’s your opportunity to lose, Mr. Modi.
Saal Mubarak, again!
An Indignant Person of Indian Origin
Copyright © 2014 Pratish Shah (November 11, 2015)