Sow hate, and reap violence

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We have all been taught that love begets love. That might not be always true as many of us have learnt at great emotional costs. Is that true of hatred too? Does hatred sometimes beget love, or tolerance or benign indifference?  I wonder going by the events that have taken place across the country with the accession to power of the Bharatiya Janata Party under the leadership of Narendra Modi in Delhi. Firmly ensconced in power with an unbeatable majority, unlike the earlier BJP-partnered coalitions, the Modi government spread hatred against various people beginning with the religious minorities of Muslims and Christians; then came the turn of Congress, leftists and their supporters, then liberals, feminists, et al. Over the last four years, our national discourse has been marked by language of coarseness, threats, bullying, abuse and intolerance. The social media provided a useful platform for the hate-mongers to further their agenda of creating suspicion and planting fear in all those opposing them. Trolling assumed fearsome proportions. Women were the favourite punching bags for the hate-mongers who evoked the most violent images of what they would do to the women who disagreed with them, from raping them publicly and violently, to threatening to insert iron rods and thorns in their vaginas, cutting off their breasts and noses, to burning them alive.

Studies have shown that hate groups proliferated in the USA after the Trump election and that the number of likes and comments on hate groups in Twitter increased by 900 per cent since then. Although we don’t have such studies in the Indian context, one can be reasonably sure that a similar situation has developed in India too since 2014. There are several examples of how the atmosphere of hate created and fostered by the Hindutva groups has reflected in our society. Lynchings have become a regular feature. In the past few months, this hate has taken demonic shape in the two Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In two instances, fathers attacked and killed or grievously injured their daughters’ husbands for marrying a lower caste man. In another instance, the girl’s head was shaved to shame her publicly. Such instances were rare earlier in the southern states.  As experts explain, hate is like poison that seeps into the society resulting in violence such as killings and physically hurting the targets of hate.  Hatred has its origin in blaming another for the real or imaginary hurts and wrongs that seemingly were caused by the other person or community. So whether some Hindus point to the Muslims for their perceived sense of being wronged historically and culturally or whether the father believes he has been wronged or socially demeaned by daughter marrying a low caste man, hatred explodes in a violent act. What kind of person targets innocent children whether as in Kathua where a girl child was raped and killed by Hindutva men or attacking children attending a Madrassa and killing a boy of eight in …? It is unthinkable for an average human being but for those whose minds have been taken over by hatred, whose souls are deadened by anger, they find comfort and a release in targeting a defenceless child. When hatred becomes normal, violence is naturalized.

Do our hatred-peddling Hindutva leaders realize that this hatred and violence does more harm to them, their children and to the very society they are trying to build?  Hatred has been described as a corrosive virus of the mind, a poison that destroys those who harbour it and ultimately, the very society and the nation that supports them.  The Hindu philosophy of Karma of action-consequence shows us how we have to inevitably face the outcome of our own actions. Hatred will singe everybody, not sparing the ‘hater’ or the hated. Sooner than later, hatred will come visiting us in our homes, schools, streets, destroying our present and the future of our children. It is like the tiger we mount to kill. Soon we realize that we cannot get off the tiger as it will not spare us too since it was taught to kill.When we ‘other’ another person or community on some factors, other factors will soon crop up to continue the division, the ‘othering’. Our search for the enemy continues relentlessly, almost naturally. We will find differences to object to, and there will be a large number of them because we ARE different from one another. Just imagine. Today the fight is with religion. Tomorrow it will be caste; then, region; then sub-region; then language; then different variants of the same language. Where will it end? And with what consequences?

Our Hindutva friends need to realize that we are destroying our country, creating huge fissures among the people, distancing them from each other, teaching them not to tolerate anything they disagree with. Can we foresee the future if this continues?Already Gujarat has set the trend, of attacking and driving out thousands of non-Gujaratis, specifically of north Indian origin.  Can we see that the unity of our very country is endangered?  For instance, the history, civilizational and modern, of the South is very different. The developmental gap between the North and the South is huge. Already, voices are being heard that the Hindutva phenomenon is a north Indian phenomenon. People in the street are voicing that it is time for the South to carve out its own destiny. Should such sentiments gather momentum, there are global powers who are waiting to take advantage to carve up India so that the threat to their global political and economic dominance is removed. A divided India can no longer aspire to become a super power. A divided India will be a dream come true for the reigning super powers whether USA or China or any other country.

Wise people have spoken about the repercussions of cultivating anger and hatred. For instance, Buddha warned that anger damages the person that harbours it. Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

Hate is tearing our society and the very entity called India. The seeds of division have been sown. To take the simile further, our task is clear. We need to plough deep and uproot these seeds even as they are sprouting. Else, we will have to reap a violent , dehumanized and divided India. And face a disintegration and destruction of India as we have known it.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Dr Akhileshwari Ramagoud is a journalist and academic. She can be reached at [email protected]


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