Co-Written by Debmalya Nandy and NIlakshi Bhattacharyya
The doldrums of the current political scenario is also witnessing a changing face of the society. Not just our citizenships, our sense of reasoning and rational thinking are under threat as well.. Amidst the NRC( National Register for citizens) and CAA( Citizenship Amendment Act) row and the turbulence brought about by the introduction of the citizenship amendment act, the Bharatiya Janata Party had established the fact that divisive politics is here to stay. The current political turbulence has polarized the Indian society in a peculiar manner which is now culminating into a permanent division in the society. With political power shifting and time the intensity may increase or reduce but the already dormantly existing religious divide has been politically reinforced and normalized. Most saddening is that Indian society has reciprocated to the divisive agenda of the right wing party and has shown why BJP had gained momentum over the years and emerged as a strong majority at the parliament. The sense of hatred for a particular religion among the Hindu community is now out in the open and the dirty hate mongering is being normalized gradually.
This piece does not attempt to discuss NRC or CAA in general but what it had done to us, the educated hindu middle class is the key aspect of this write up.
The Bharatiya Janata Party through it’s majoritarian politics had been trying to attract and motivate millions of Hindus to envision the idea of a Hindu Rashtra and it had taken various different ways to establish it’s arguments before the great hindu middle class of the country. While the nature of majoritarian religious sentiment is generally adequate to motivate the larger Hindu fraternity, the use of multiple divisive strategies by the current government had acted as top up to the already established line of social thinking and the manifestation of the same has been more open and loud than before.
The BJP had carefully crafted the social narrative like the muslim population rise being a threat to the economic situations of the Hindus. It had slowly injected a divisive poison into the minds of the Hindu community that Hindus are soon going to be outnumbered by the Muslims and all their Jobs and benefits will be stolen by the Muslims, leaving the Hindus in economic distress.
The Bharatiya Janata party through it’s obnoxious social media campaign had been actively spreading hate against the Muslim community since it came to power in 2014. It basically has come up with a prescription for all kinds of Hindus. It is using the Hindu Identity of people and their closeness to the idea of hinduism to spread hatred against the Muslims. While Hindu fundamentalists are easy prey and subscribe to the extreme divisive narratives, the relatively progressive Hindus are subscribing to the narratives that the country has been infested with Muslim infiltrators from Bangladesh and Pakistan or that the Muslims will eat up all their jobs and benefits and push them and their future generation into economic distress. The logical hindus are trapped by the narratives that the erstwhile Muslim dynasts have conquered Hindu civilizations and vandalized the ancient Hindu architecture and sculpture , completely and almost conveniently ignoring the aspect of colonial aspirations and wealth accumulation and only giving it a religious angle. If you are still not convinced the stories are doing rounds that all mosques , muslim sculptures and memorials are built on Hindu temples . The Ram Mandir verdict was important for the BJP as a verdict favoring their stance would have normalized many of these social thinking even without caring for particulars facts or data. You will always find people these days asking on the social media that why most terrorists belong to a certain religion ,while they will never be able to come out or furnish any data behind their claim. The success of the Bharatiya Janata Party is that it has taught majority Indian hindus to look at muslims as outsiders and with doubtfulness. In a blatant violation of the constitution, it has tried to establish that India is primarily a country belonging to Hindus and the country’s wealth, jobs, infrastructures are primarily to be enjoyed by the Hindus and people from other religion are just staying at the mercy of the majority hindus who have let them stay in their territory . The muslims having a strong numerical presence in the country thus seen as a threat to the Hindus. While in the constitution, the idea of India does not discriminate between any religion, this majoritarian sense among the Hindus is a narrative being socially reinforced through political machineries. The Government machineries are being now used to spread the agenda and thus the multiplier effect is even higher.
India is a complex social structure with great economic inequalities and exploitations at all levels. Thus even privileged Hindus belonging to the middle class might not understand their religious privileges while struggling for economic well being . It is hard for the common hindus to even identify their privileges over the other religion in india like easily getting a house or getting a promotion at the office, not being judged by how they look, what they wear etc which the other religious minorities constantly struggle with. Thus, as the rule of oppression goes, the privileged unaware of their social privileges, use their privileges to acquire more privilege denying equality, justice and causing discrimination and exploitation to the minorities. This social norm from a dormant systemic compulsion has now become a preferred choice for many and which is highly alarming for a secular democracy.
The current turmoil of NRC-CAA will go down as one of the darkest chapters in the Indian history when in the modern sophisticated era , an entire country has been debating religion and religious superiority. While the urban middle class and affluent class are debating with their natural sophistication and ambiguity, the fact remains that the primary agenda in the nation today is religion, pitting Hindus against the Muslims of the country.
This is shameful and derogatory that in attempt to justify our hindu biases and sentiments we are often blindly forwarding hate messages, fake stories on the social media which have very little credibility and no base at all. The biases are such that we even don’t hesitate to justify the police violence on students or peaceful protestors . We don’t even want to acknowledge that the issue of NRC-CAA and police violence on the student s actually could be seen from two different ideological view points even if one supports the NRC-CAA. It is not mandatory to support the police violence on protestors even if you are against the protests. We have certainly lost our sense of rationality and free thinking.
While the country is going through great economic slow down, the rural joblessness is on the rise, The GDP figures are falling in each quarters and there are fundamental issues of people’s basic and elementary needs still to be resolved, the country is engaging in a regressive debate at the end of which there is no light.
Debmalya nandy is a social worker and Nilakshi bhattacharyya is a concerned citizen.