For us Indians, that’s not just a word, it’s an emotion.
India is no stranger to oppression- both foreign and internal.
Religious, racial, and caste discrimination over centuries, by both foreign powers and upper caste Indians, ended up creating a rigid social structure where everyone was at odds with their neighbours.
In such an environment of division, it was easy for foreign powers like the British to set up camp and gradually rule over the country.
Unity for the Sake of Independence
It was in the late 1800s and early 1900s, after centuries of oppression, that Indians realised that the only way to overthrow British rule was to put aside internal differences and come together as a nation.
The politicians of the time were largely educated, patriotic people who rallied to bring Indians together under a common flag, casting aside their differences, in order to carve their own national identity.
The Religious Bloodbath of the Partition
The Partition of 1947, just prior to Independence, was a bloodbath for Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs, with literal villages and trainloads of people being set on fire for belonging to a particular religion.
As a result, the Constitution framed declares India to be a Secular Socialist Democracy, a place where Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains, Sikhs, Jews, Zoroastrians, and more could feel at home, be treated equally, and be free to settle in any part of the country they chose.
Today, we have certain politicians and organizations rallying to turn India into a ‘Hindu Republic,’ essentially seeking to undo decades and centuries of history that made India home to a colourful variety of communities.
By seeking to saffronize the country and enforce certain eating habits, religious outlines, languages, etc., we are not only disrespecting our fellow citizens of other religions, we are also stripping them of their basic rights.
It’s sad that a cow gets more respect on the road than a woman- cars swerve to avoid cows and calves, but women are grabbed, groped, raped, and killed with no thought. We also know there’s something terribly wrong when innocent Muslim citizens get lynched by angry mobs for eating beef.
Hindu-Muslims tensions in particular are running high, with several ignorant right-wingers operating on the belief that ‘Muslims must go to Pakistan.’
This harmful sentiment has led to rising tension and violence between Hindus and Muslims, the pace of which is dictated by the tensions between India and Pakistan.
Take a Leaf Out of the Old Book
Just because we have more advanced technology and nukes now doesn’t mean we are more evolved as people.
I firmly believe we need to take a leaf out of the book of the political leaders who brought India to Independence and drafted the Constitution.
They understood that the only way a country can stand strong against external forces is to accept its diversity and respect it.
Mindless killing and fighting within the nation weakens us, making us an easy target from the outside.
Our freedom fighters may not have had the TV, Internet, smartphones, and a tonne of other things we have today, but they understood basic humanity far better than us.
It’s time for the current generation of citizens and politicians to get their priorities straight, and prevent the country from turning into a Hindu-Muslim battlefield.
Image Credits : Google Images
Find the author online at : @samyukthanair_