A few days ago I came across this piece by Kishore Asthana which makes a number of important points that form the backdrop to Godhra.
I am reproducing some excerpts below but I would encourage you to read the article in full: Tehelka�s Gujarat Expose and the Deeper Truth
Excerpts (emphasis mine):
“……Look at the progression. Arguments with tea vendors and rumours of kidnapping lead a Muslim mob to burn 60 people alive. The burning of 60 Hindu pilgrims results in carnage all over the state. It is a case of a petty incident leading to gross over-reaction, leading to a grosser over-reaction. It does not need too much intelligence to fix the blame where it belongs.
Babulal Bajrangi was a mere symptom of the disease. The underlying causes are our lopsided politics of division along caste and religion and our skewed perception of the word �secular� since our independence.
…The lessons the mind draws from all this are chilling. They are at many levels:
The Resentments � Lesson no. 1 – It is obvious that there is deep resentment amongst Hindu s at their treatment by Muslims who are emboldened by India �s secular nature and its liberal intelligentsia. Hindus view themselves as the subjugated people of India and are constantly reminded of this by the politicians and the media. I am talking of the �average� Hindu who eventually matter and not the urban Hindu intelligentsia who show remarkable unawareness of their own double standards.
Imagine a group of Muslims returning from the Haj, in Lahore . They are on a train and are chanting Allah O Akbar. The train stops at a station, some of the Hajis fight with a Hindu tea vendor, and a mob of 1,000 Hindus collects and stones and torches the train. Would such a scenario be feasible in Pakistan ? No. But, in India , the reverse is easily accepted and no one appears to question the mindset of the Muslim leaders who encourage this or the Muslim mob which acts in this manner with seeming impunity.
Hindu s are not even permitted to enter Mecca but Muslims lay a claim to Ayodhya, the Mecca of the Ram Bhakts. All this births dissonance in the Hindu mind and the pressure keeps building up.
The Consequences : Lesson no. 2 � When the cork is blown open by an incident like Godhra, people like Babu Bajrangi and his ilk emerge, monster-like, fattened on this resentment. Once the Djinn is out of the bottle, there is no saying what will happen. We must learn to identify and neutralise such Djinns before they emerge from the bottle or, better still, not even give them an opportunity to take birth.
The Deeper Truth: Lesson no. 3 -. The deeper truth is that such resentments are building up all over India. The pressures of modern living, the proliferation of the media and its populist feeding frenzy, the minority- appeasing manipulations of political parties, the subversion of the bureaucracy and other such factors ensure that the detonator is well primed, the fuel is available; the cynical facilitators are all in place and only the trigger is needed.
Emotional Integration: The need, today, is for a quest for Emotional Integration. For this to come about, it is essential to face some unpalatable truths and come to grips with some very important and difficult to implement matters:
a. Primacy to the Indian Constitution over religious laws:
b. Sensitivity towards the feelings of the Hindu faithful: …In 50 years of independence, should our leaders not have ensured this by peaceful, legal means? If they had paid half as much attention to Hindu concerns as they pay to the concerns of minorities, it would have been enough…Instead, Hindu s have been taken for granted and the minorities pampered, with catastrophic results as far as the average Hindu �s mindset is concerned.
c. Ending the Politics of Appeasement: Special privileges � subsidies for pilgrimages, reservations in jobs, scholarships to minority students etc. need to be stopped. A secular state must only give special privileges only to citizens who are in financial need at this time.
d. A more responsible media: This needs no elaboration.
e. A quicker and more effective law enforcement and judicial system: When the citizens start thinking that mobs must do what the state is incapable or unwilling to do, then we have the Gujarat riots, the lynching of criminals in our towns and villages and even encounter deaths. This kind of disproportionate retaliation is a hallmark of frustration of the citizens with the legal machinery.
f. Imposition of minimum qualifications and law-abiding record for our legislators.
g. Improvement in our education system to promote self-esteem and regard for our nation-hood. Our education delivery system is pathetic and does not inculcate desirable values in our young. It does not encourage the feeling of emotional integration with others.
…Our education by rote and the politicised, Eurocentric curriculum is playing havoc with national self-esteem. Neglect of teaching as the most important profession in the country has made matters worse.
…In its vigilantism, Tehelka has focused on events, rather than deeper causes. However, all Indians must look deeper, into our own selves and at our politicians, media, judges and bureaucracy, if we have to avoid more bloodshed in the name of religion.
A slightly edited version also appeared here.
Comments, thoughts and suggestions welcome as always. I think this is too important a matter to be left for�the media alone.