The Pursuit Of Fundamentals

Changez Khan

The Indians are witnessing a psychological split like never before, forming the trails of episodes of communal aggression. In the meantime, every gathering of peers or relatives has formed into mushrooms of public spheres wherein the two binary categories are engrossed advocating leftist or rightist ideology. This might have installed a robust miniature democracy in every household but nevertheless, it is backed on the grounds of religion. One cannot afford to stand apolitical, the fundamentals of ideologies have to be accentuated and painted as white despite the universally accepted fact of it having the traces of black. The presence of greys in each side is inevitable.

The right is adamant on its deduction that revolves around the unfortunate and twisted Mughal history, the Sanatan Dharma as the source of all religion, ‘filthy’ Islamic practices and its preaching as a global factory of terrorism, Congress and Nehru pushing back the development to the pre-medieval ages and coding of the term ‘nationalism’. The left is the flagbearer of secularism, advocacy for transparency, criticism against the authoritarian, fascist and unaccountable government, the govt overlooking the democratic process and demographic, religious, class-based human right violation by the virtue of the regime’s ‘unconstitutional’ policies. We have difficult choices to make, not because one ideology seems to amend all historical ‘wrongs’ and the other being an ‘intellectual’s choice’ to raise logical questions. But, it is because biases have to be burnt down, stereotypes have to be waved back and our side has to be defended rigorously, presented as flawless, as ‘white’, always.

This reminds me of the 2012 thriller-drama, ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’, directed by Mira Nair. Despite scratching on the west-proliferated concept of Islamophobia, the film at the end presents to us a dilemma of an accomplished Pakistani financial analyst of Wall Street, Changez Khan. He begins to tell his story to an American journalist, Bobby, who had overtime developed a soft spot for Pakistan. Bobby is assigned to interview Changez, an eminent pro-Islamic intellectual professor, suspected of abducting his American professor colleague in the Lahore University. Changez like all other Muslims in the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks came under an unprecedented suspicion, antagonism and repugnance in the prevalent uproar of patriotism. He eventually tossed away the job that he always dreamt of because of his realisation of what the tentacles of capitalism does to small, enduring enterprises. He returns to his homeland and propagates virtuous and progressive ideas among youth by teaching as a professor.

One day, he is acquainted with a Mujahid leader and after his manipulative eloquence to join them, he is smitten away by him until the Mujahid leader proclaims him to be hopeful of the fundamentals in the Quran. This forbade him to be dragged in his side of the court as it reminded him of his first day at Underwood Samson. There he was advised to focus on the fundamentals of capitalism. He derived that capitalism and terrorism serve the same purpose, divide people in binaries to exploit other sets of people. He begins his chronicle by preluding, “Looks can be deceiving. I am a lover of America, although I was raised to feel very Pakistani.”. And, towards tapering the end he opens about his resolution saying, “These young men (the extremist who came to seek him in their camaraderie) were engaged in their own valuation, just like Underwood Samson (the company where he worked in New York), moving human beings in and out of binary columns: worker, liability, American, Pakistani, martyr, infidel, alive, dead. I was tired of reduction. I was tired of deciding from a distant perch the fate of people I did not know.”

The value of this substance cannot be realised more prominently than in this present socio-political discourse. To all those who are still drifting in the spectrum of ideologies, it is important to ask ourselves, if we want us to be reduced in the fundamentals of these ideologies that have waged all the draconian and proxy wars in the 20th century? Or do we want to leave our biases, norms and opinion’s of the opinion leaders behind and make use of our disposition as an ‘uncategorised identities’?

Shaily Mishra is pursuing BA(Hons) Journalism from Kalindi College, DU.




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