Monday, June 8, 2009

Hindutva and the ‘Muslim mob’!

It is heartening to see a significant section of BJP leaders and ideologues going into a sober post-election introspection on issues related Hindutva, BJP's minority policies, mobocracy of Hindutva outfits, moral policing, hate-speeches etc. While that is good, there are other much needed introspections which I think are not given the attention that they deserve.

There have been numerous articles/movies/debates/blogs etc on the aspect of BJP's politics that may be described as communal. Many people cutting across religious/caste/regional lines gave a call to abandon communalism/extremism of all kinds and that the rights/justice/freedom of all citizens needs to be asserted and protected by the state. While I am one of the persons who argued in these lines (in my own little ways in internet debates/blogs etc) and that BJP's ideology has elements that fall short of this ideal, that is not to say that it is only the BJP which needs introspection/correction.

Let us step back a bit, and see how Hindutva extremism rose its head in the first place, even though its success is limited to small pockets and is temporary. It appears to me that one of the reasons for the success in the places where Hindutva (especially what is referred as the ‘hardline’ variety) succeeded is its ability to provoke 'the other' (Muslim mobs for example) into aggression/violence. Aggressive Hindutva is often not based on any positive articulation of any Hindu doctrine/idea, but on creating fear/hatred/threat in one section of the population. To create the fear/threat, they need to provoke a section of ‘the other’ (Muslim mobs, for example) into violence/riots/aggression. This brings me to the point of introspection that is much required. Why is it easy to provoke a situation where a ‘Muslim mob’ turns violent? The rise of Hindutva extremism is directly proportional to the ease with which a ‘Muslim mob’ can be provoked into violence. While it is true that the whole Muslim community cannot be blamed for the violence done in the name of Islam by fringe groups, it is still required the community takes some amount of collective/corporate responsibility to use various forums/meetings/rallies/protests/writings/debates etc to repeatedly and categorically condemn the use of violence and educate the community on the virtues of showing restraint, how to behave even in the face of apparent provocation etc. There is no excuse for resorting to measures like killing innocents, indulging in communal riots etc. One election result in favor of BJP is all it takes for some to claim again that Hindutva is back on the resurgence and so on. But in reality, it takes more than an election win for Hindutva extremism to make a comeback – it needs the ability to provoke a ‘Muslim mob’ into violence/extremism. Why should that be an easy thing to do? What needs to be done to avoid that? This is an area of much needed introspection and urgent positive action.

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