If we talk to reductionists who are die hard Hindu upper caste and usually upper caste about the Other that is Muslim they come up with some interesting observations that can be summed up in the amusing and alarming sentence ‘all Muslims are potential terrorists as all terrorists are Muslim.’ This is followed by statements that stem from fear like: They will still convert us by the sword given half a chance. They never blame their own people for their sins and do not entertain any discussion on their religion, being fanatics or fundamentalists or conservatives of an extreme kind and being prone to excess emotionalism react violently if questioned. They give no freedom to others of different beliefs and none to women.
We do not see these statements coming from the Other/s in Hinduism, though. By the Other/s in Hinduism I mean shudras like Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd or Dalits who were once called mlecchas or untouchables or tribals who all form the base of the Hindu perception of nation by the so called savarnas. Dalits are, compared to even Muslims and Christians, considered worse off. Buddhists are meant to have no place at all in India, the same way Jews are not welcome in Saudi.
These perceptions are are held by educated people who would be shocked to know that they are viewed in a reductionist manner by the Other/s they look down on who sum up Hinduism in one sentence: ‘Hinduism is casteist as all casteists are Hindus,’ which means Hindus are basically purely discrimantory, to which pigeonholing they would object violently without objecting to their pigeonholing of Muslims or Dalits in ways like: why can’t a Dalit marry a poor Dalit, why aspire to marry someone from upper caste or one well off. And off a Dalit who by mischance marries an upper caste they say the Dalit has to let the son or children be looked after by the upper castes and forget his own family and relatives to get a better deal for the children. An argument they object to when a Hindu marries a Muslim.
The film Sairat explores some of these issues unsatisifactorily. The result of all these thoughts has been events like the present deadlock we see in Sabarimala where no one is sure what the right thing to do is, except those who are enlightened who know clearly that there is no discimination or should be in law, among human beings, in a nation, in religions, and among all living creatures etc., as between men and women and freedom is what is aimed at in increasing fashion and not restrictions in a democracy.
To talk of freedom is to point out that freedom can be unity but is not uniformity but all such words are double edged, meaning that both unity and uniformity are coins that can have both useful and inappropriate sides. We see a lot of uniformity and unity among fascists but less among liberty loving people as they all may speak the same thing but not necessarily want to organize to come under the same banner which is their weakness the enemy takes advantage of like Hitler did once.
Thus it is good for us to be united in fighting the BJP to ensure their defeat in the elections in 2019 but it is not to be done in a uniform way as the BJP wants uniformity to hammer out unity which is the method of fascism which can only be overturned by democracy or anarchy or communism, but not the kind seen so far in India; rather, a more radical form of all three is needed now. A combination is what is needed.
To start with one has to recognise that this fight is Indian and one cannot really fight it with Western ideas even by thinkers as great as Judith Butler who considers white supremacy and white nationalism as the greatest dangers of the world due to where she lives, as the fight in different places is different, and presently the fight in India is not about white supremacy or white nationalism, but about the supremacy of the Hindu upper caste upper class and Hindu nationalism and its appropriation of capitalism. This is the kind that labels people as thazhnajaati, anyajaati, uyarnajaati etc., and this labelling into inferior, alien and superior which is false regarding racial labelling of people in India has to stop, this racial profiling of people, if India is to be founded on the truth which is that we all are born with inherited genetic traits and are not tabula rasas – Locke was wrong – that blossom and unfold over time and an upbringing in our families and then in society that may or may not clash as well as a geographical and spatial and temporal rooting or grounding, not to forget our local histories and our grasp of the world from such a limited but constantly shifting and expanding vantage point of view, that leads to a welcome admixture and the necesssity is to learn to co exist peacefully and not on any inbuilt beingness as Hindus or Christians or Marxists or Buddhists or Jews or Muslims, which is all false. We are living products who are created by all these forces to some extent who then gain agency to undo these creations or continue in them or redo them to reinvent ourselves if even luckier and the lie is that a nation is any less a product and not actually just as much a created entity still in the process of being created or undone or recreated or invented or reinvented and in this flux it is very important to play active roles to ensure we get the nation we want which starts with getting the government we want in which case the BJP with its agendas that are ruinous to us in politics, economics, and culture or identity or even as human beings have to be overthrown once for all to start with to reestablish India’s real needs being met and its multicultural, multireligious, multipolitical, multieconomic policies and fabric kept intact.
What our real needs as a nation are is very clear – we need population control or more land, we need water, air, food, housing, shelter, clothing, medication, education, jobs, good travel facilities, improvement in science and technology, old age care, ecological and environmental safety, gender equality, LGBTQI needs to be met, religious freedom, no discrimination, no corruption, reservation for some and leisure in which the emotional needs of poeple are met through development in arts and sports etc., and the money for this can only come of religion – Hinduism, Islam and Chrisitanity especially in the Indian context – stops being selfish and casteist and starts being nationalistic at this juncture in time as a nation so people value both equally and not one or the other either way.
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.
© Dr Koshy AV