The problem with secularism as it has been extolled in the last couple of decades was brought to the fore by the Rahul Gandhi incident at Somnath temple. Let me at the outset state that the Congress Vice President’s religious faith has little to do with this article, it is but an exemplar of how we have got secularism so wrong, or rather have been manipulated by the fraudulent definition and use of secularism to be denied our rights and shamed for being Hindu and as it happens a majority. If we break it down to the basics, minorities in India have grown, compare that with the situation in Pakistan, born off the same bloody delivery that devastated lives on the “promise” of a two-nation theory and protections for minorities in both countries. At the time of Partition, 23 per cent of Pakistan’s population was non-Muslim, today that figure stands at about three per cent.
The “secular” founding fathers of Pakistan had wished to establish a homeland for Muslims in South Asia, but they had not submitted to the idea of an Islamic state. A short drive from South Delhi to Delhi and its Civil Lines area will open the door to those interested on the travails of Hindu refugees from Pakistan, who have escaped with little but their lives and live under the harshest circumstances. One will hear little of their tragedies, unlike those of the Rohingya, because that is secularism at work.
Since Modi took office, the minorities under siege narrative has taken centre stage, data has debunked that theory but nonetheless, if we were to accept its “truth” or agenda, it is still stale news. There were minorities under siege, and it was the Kashmiri Pandit Hindus, who were displaced from their homeland and two decades and more later still live in camps. A national disgrace and a reminder to those in office who wax eloquent on atmospherics, but ignore the plight of Kashmiri Hindus. Secularism at work again.
The Congress, which has been in power for most of independent India’s history, has lately systematically marginalised Hindus with the hope that this will achieve some sort of mythical balance. In the process, it has created a vast sea of resentment against its selectivity, this resentment has manifested in election results. And it is now that the Congress has realised just how damaging its pseudo secular policies have been, not to mention the damage it has done to the intrinsic secularity of the Hindu faith. It has instead decided to go on a “Hindutva” over drive. When former Union Minister Kapil Sibal questions if PM Modi is a Hindu, I daresay this kind of questioning is more Hindutva than Hindutva itself! Like secularism, the Congress doesn’t seem to get Hindutva either.
But never mind that quibble, Congress spokespersons have gone on overdrive declaring Rahul Gandhi’s personal faith post Somnath — Hindu and “qualifying” it with janeu dhari — or thread wearing — a direct reference to caste and a suggestion of a high standing purity or stature. What will the progressives call this? I will tell you, I find it appalling. And let me be clear, I am a Hindu and have brothers who have undergone the thread ceremony, so I am far from spewing hate speech against Brahmins that passes for progressive thought. But I also understand that it is a solemn ceremony of passage — a tradition in the present context, not a status report and to posit it in that way is the deepest form of regressive and casteist posturing.
Be it the coinage of Hindu terror, questioning the authenticity of Lord Rama and now flaunting “janeu dhari” as a brand, it is the lowest form of play with faith and is deeply offensive to all Hindus and I daresay people of “minority” faiths as well. But on the flip side, minorities are seeing through this duplicity as well. Take the triple talaq issue and the demonising of Muslims that they would take to the streets and there would be riot and revolt. When the verdict came in against the practice, there was no violence, no aggression on the streets. A progressive decision was welcomed by all and especially by Muslim women who had suffered a setback at the hands of the Congress with Shah Bano, a Congress that claimed to “protect” them.
The UP elections displayed how the Indian votes not the Hindu or the Muslim as political pundits analysed, this sweeping mandate was impossible without Muslims having voted for the BJP. Secularism in the form it was used and propagated had to be disabused of its pretentions and it has been done so decisively at the ballot box. Vasudhaiva Kutubamkam’s time may have arrived, yet again.
(The author is a screenwriter and columnist)