Wake Up, India: Essays for Our Times-Restating what India is and who an Indian is

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The common man/woman knows India is struggling over simple issues. We need clean air and no pollution, we have water problems, we all need food, shelter and clothing as well as proper jobs, good education, good medical care and leisure, families, old age care, care for the disabled etc., plus electricity, good travel facilites, technology like the internet and phones, a sound media for news, good distribution networks for goods etc. We, the common people, know that india is one country and it is rich in resources, especially human ones. The common man or woman does not want war, wants to live at peace and wants his country to prosper as he or she or his family also wants to prosper. He is an idealist and dreams of things like equality, justice, equity and many other things. But his or her wishes are always denied, or thwarted, or never made concrete reality by wrong ideology or politics esposued by the masses and the ruling parties.

Instead he is given a lot of hogwash by the BJP and the Congress on two words that have now come to make him feel ike vomiting. Religion and culture. The BJP says that, for instance, building a Ram temple is a must for them as they are true Hindus The Congress via Tharoor says that no one if he is a true Hindu will want a temple to be built in Ayodhya.

The same with Sabarimala. If one is a true Hindu one will not let women enter. Or will.

But a lot of Indians like me are Indians first, last and foremost and not Hindus at all by birth or choice and these conversations only amuse us as we see through them clearly that they do not take congnizance of India’s real and frightening problems.

Both these arguments by these groups wtih large folllowings suggest that being a true Indian is synonymous with being a true Hindu and upholding the cuture of temple worship of one kind or the other etc.

What about those who are not Hindus, or Muslims, or not men or women who oppose women entering one particular temple or men or women who don’t oppose it, as they are not Hindus but are instead Dalits, adivasis, Christians, Buddhists, Mormons, theosophists, tribals, atheists, Sikhs, Jains, Church of Scientologists, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses etc., etc., in India. What about Lingayyats who claim to be another religion now? Are all they, being about 40 to 60 per cent of India to consider India as synonymous with being Hindu and the only culture as being temple centred? This is the kind of thinking and flaw that led to the downfall of the Christian West till they became post Christian and is the downfall of Arab nations, ones like Saudi Arabia in which I now work presently, meaning that what is of most importance is considered to be of no significance compared to these burningly virulent totally meaningless religion and culture oriented questions which is destructive to mankind. In India the toxic brew is added to by the question of caste, gender, class or the remnants of the feudal and the zamindari system.

Let me return to my basic premise – to be a good Indian is not synonymous, whatever BJP or Congress says, with supporting or not supporting the building of the Ram temple, which would be illegal as would the tearing down of the Babru Masjid if we are a new country from 1947 or with the question of whether women can or should enter Sabarimala which being stopped is also illegal if we are a democtratic country based on the Indian constitution of 1947 and on respecting the SC ruling. To say otherwise is to either say India does not exist and we do not start as a new socialist, secular, republican, humanist country in 1947 which is a way to destroy the nation’s identity and sedition or even if we do start afresh in 1947 post colonialism indians have to be Hindu and uphold Hindu culture to be first class citizens in their own land, which is also another way for the country to destroy itself and become a country only like Pakistan which became Islambad as a reaction to which North Indians want to take pride in India as Hindustan due to Partition memories and wounds, sentiments not shared in the South of India – a stupid name given to india by Britishers who even spelt Hindus wrong as Hindoos – which is a grievous state to be in if we become a nation like that.

The alternative is clear which is to listen to thinkers like me who refuse to polarize the nation into good Hindus and bad Hindus for the sake of votes unlike the BJP and the foolish Shashi Tharoor but instead try to inspire all into being good Indians which means to work for clean air for all, water for all, for all purposes, that is potable etc., food for all so hunger scarcity is not there, protection from natural calamitiies like floods, clothing for all, shelter or housing for all, good jobs for all, electricity, internet, good medicine, leisure, travel facilities, disitribution, wholesome entertainment etc.

Where will all get jobs? That is easy – if we concentrate on air, water, housing, clothing, education, healthcare, travel facilites, electricity, dissater management, garbage and e-waste solutions, internet, software and such sectors etc., as primary sectors we have jobs in plenty to give to people. Where will we get money for all these ventures? That is easier. Take the money from what is put into the Hindu religion and temples and spent in the name of culture and use it instead for the welfare of the state. This is the need of the hour. The nation is being bled dry by Hinduism and its temples and the relgious madness of devotees in giving to them and for festivals and rites and rituals and ceremonies and in pomp and show that is garish and destructive and if this stupid trend is reversed this single thing can save India. Why do I speak specifically of Hinduism? Because I speak of India. Elsewhere I would speak of other things as for instance in America I would attack Trump, racism, Bible belt Xtianity, and money raised by fakes through televangelism and in Arab countries of money given for Shia or Sunni places of worship that could be better utilised many a time for the countries in question.

To restate or sum up – India is not synonymous with Hinduism or anti-Islamism, which refual is what truly makes India great, and to be interested in India is not to be interested in its temples and culture and their money sucking ability, but synonymous with the welfare of its people irrespective of which religion they belong to or which culture they hold on to, which issues to be interested in is also what makes one a good citizen of India. Whatever the BJP or Tharoor or the RSS or anyone else might say to the contrary.

Dr A.V. Koshy is an established author and writer who is a poet, critic and artist. He has a doctorate in Samuel Beckett’s Poems in English from the University of Kerala, now published. He has co-authored and published a monograph of essays called Wrighteings: In Media Res and has several, published research papers to his credit. His greatest desire is to build a village for people having autism where all their needs are met. He runs an NGO called “Autism for Help Village Project” with his wife for this dream to come true. He has fourteen other books out now as fiction writer, literary critic, poet, academician, literary theoretician, essayist, editor, anthologist, co -editor, co-author and co-contributor. His latest and perhaps best book is a collection of short stories Scream and Other Urbane Legends.

© Koshy AV

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