Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Is there really tolerant religion?

There are so many religions in this world, I don't know the official count but I am sure there are many. There is also fierce competition among them to recruit as many subjects as possible, this helps them to increase their popularity and in turn their income and influence on people's lives (which is very very important for them). All these religions claim to teach kindness and tolerance, in spite of this claim if we look at the history of each and every major organized religion we can find many bloody conflicts in the name of God or defending their God (either within that religion or with other religions). So the question which comes to my mind very often, is there any religion which really teaches tolerance? If it's the case, then why people following that religion (so called devotees) don't practice it? Are all these claims about tolerance and love hollow? Do they say this just for marketing and to fool people? It seems they are tolerant and kind as long as you listen to them and follow their rituals without asking any questions, once you do anything against their wish or put them in dock by asking some uncomfortable questions, then you face their wrath and anger.

Islam and Christianity are very aggressive in their marketing, and because of that very successful also, they believe a lot in individual or mass conversions, this is one of major reason for their popularity and rapid spread all over the world in such a short time (compared with other major religions). I think once they feel the need to covert somebody that means they are not tolerant to their original faith or beliefs, they feel those beliefs are wrong, otherwise what's the need to convert people? These and many other religions don't have very kind attitude towards each others values and traditions, what is called sacred in one religion can be considered as totally blasphemous in other (for example idol worship). They also claim to teach basically same thing just because they all believe in presence of some super powerful God, this is the only common factor (belief in some super powerful entity) but rest everything is radically different. Some of these things are so different that these differences have potential to create communal riots which result in brutal mass killings, again all this in name of God and religion which they claim teaches tolerance and love. I think these bloody conflicts started since second religion (a competitor) originated and are still going on (in some form or other) with no end in sight.

Hinduism claims to be very tolerant and inclusive religion, this is true only to some extent. It doesn't believe in any conversions, atheism was also part of this system, almost each and everything is considered as God (river, mountains, sun, trees, etc.). One can list many good points about Hinduism like many other major religions but it has big question mark of casteism. Particular class of society was exploited in the name of caste or social hierarchy for thousands of years. Surprisingly some people still try to defend and justify this system, they refuse to accept that the system itself had an inbuilt flaw and allowed exploitation of one class by another class of individuals. Buddhism and Jainism give lot of importance to ahimsa (non violence) but then they are not willing to consider that some people can have different dietary preferences (for so many reasons apart from personal choice).

Discrimination against women and defining their role in family (or society) is common in history of all religions. They all try their best to confine women only to particular role and put very strict rules for their code of conduct, the effect of these teachings are so strong that still we don't see any women occupying any top positions in almost all institutions managed by major organized religions or cult movements (these movements are no different than any religions out there).

So, the point here is, I don't see any truly tolerant religion around me (including my own in which I was born), tolerant to all genders (with equal rights and status), all races, people with different sexual orientation, etc. Every major religion practiced in world today definitely have a potential to become inclusive but only if they are willing to get rid of their rigid mindset and sectarian views, but this sounds like a impossible task looking at the way they function now. In their present form most of them have some very rigid rules (which are dictatorial in nature) these rules are only useful to exclude, criticize or ban certain type of people which either don't fit their definition of normal or don't follow their dictate. Many of them have some dark spots in their history which they even refuse to accept, forget about apologizing for it.

There is no doubt that religion provides nice support system and peace of mind for many even today. Many people need it for normal functioning of their lives, they feel so hollow without it. It acts as a lubricant for many, gives them answers for currently unanswerable questions (right or wrong doesn't matter), reduces their fear of death, and does many other things. But in its current form it does that job only for people who choose to believe in it blindly, without questioning anything, almost like slaves. Many times for others it (or I should say its so called true or dedicated followers, devotees, etc.) create problems and difficulties. There is no place for non believers, skeptics or people who don't follow all their rules or don't fit into their description of normal or good (like same sex couples, working women, atheists, etc). One quick glance on the history of any religion should be enough to understand what I mean. Some how all these religions which claim to teach tolerance and patience are not so patient or tolerant towards criticism directed to them, or their Gods.

So my wait for really tolerant religion which will include everyone, with equal rights for everyone (truly inclusive) continues, my hope is that may be one day some one will invent it...:) and we all will be happy..:) Some constitutions of democratic countries are very close to this (very inclusive) but unfortunately no religion in its present form even comes close to them as far as tolerance is concerned, many of these constitutions provide better rights and protection to everyone and are very tolerant to different views and opinions, I hope most major religions will some day take some clue from them and change their attitude, if not then I don't know even if their God can save them.
Thanks for reading and please share your views.

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Women are also people...

Women are also people...aren't they? I think sometimes many of us forget that and start offering them advice which they don't even ask for, start reminding them their own greatness (for our own selfish reasons), their duties and qualities they should possess as a part of their womanhood (like kindness, compassion, forgiveness, etc.). People start saying they are this and that but forget basic fact that they are also people like rest of us (specially men) and have same good and bad qualities like us (men), they are not very different, they have same basic needs and need to be given same rights and freedom, nothing else, no more, no less.

Some time back I read one poem written by a woman student in Delhi which was quoted by Hilary Clinton in one of her speech in India, "When a woman gives her love, as most do generously, it is accepted. When a woman shares her thoughts, as some women do, graciously, it is allowed. When a woman fights for power, as all women would like to do, quietly or loudly, it is questioned...Yes, there must be freedom, if we are to speak. And yes, there must be power, if we are to be heard. And when we have both (freedom and power), let us not be misunderstood." As long as women are kind, submissive, supportive, do what everyone suppose them to do, everything is fine, the time they ask for their rights, exercise them, then many times there is a problem, they are accused of overstepping their limits. Very recently I read a post about one foreign student's horrible experience about sexual harassment in India, the post was very heart wrenching and disturbing, why some people always look at women just like some physical object? Why can't they consider them just as another person like them? A person who deserves equal respect and dignified treatment which they themselves expect to receive.

How many more horrific examples like this we need to show that there is some kind of sickness present in society when women are treated like this? And let me make one thing very clear here, I am not just talking about India here, it's very sad these things happen in a country where female goddesses are worshiped. I agree that this is a major problem there, eve teasing is very common, something many women and girls have to face every day. But just because I shared the link where a victim shared her horrible experience in India it should not give an impression to readers that India is rape capital of world or these type of things happen only in India, in fact they happen all over world, much worse in many other places, only ways and methods differ, but more or less this happens all over the world, every society is facing this problem.

I think one of the reason this is still happening is because many men and even some women are still not willing to accept the equal status of women in society, they still look at them just as an object to satisfy their sexual desires and other needs, nothing more. They still think that women are not equal to them just because they are physically weak compared to them, many of them always cite this difference to show inequality between two genders. They still believe that mere physical strength gives them fundamental right to dominate them in all areas and consider them as weaker sex. They still want to believe that women are less capable compared to them, even though there are ample examples around us to prove that this is far from the truth. I always wonder how hard it can be to understand simple fact that women deserve or rather command respect and equal rights. They have already proven their strength and capabilities in all areas beyond any doubts wherever they got opportunities. They successfully challenged restrictions forcibly enforced on them by society and culture which thought they are fit only for particular job. It seems the demand of equality from women is bit too much to handle for some conservative groups and people, they can't imagine her breaking free the shackles  and flying high. These people and groups expect men and women to behave only in particular way, they fail to understand that both are humans with equal rights and responsibilities, more importantly, they forget that women are also people. They are people who deserve equal status and opportunities in society, people who demand no more or less but equal, I don't think this is a unreasonable demand at all, today or tomorrow everyone in our society have to agree to this, whether they like it or not this is bound to happen.   

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Narendra Dabholkar...the man who challenged my beliefs...

Today morning (20th August) I woke up reading shocking news of assassination of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar. Some unidentified men gunned him down in Pune, it was shocking incident and more shocking for me because it happened in Pune, the place where I was born and grew up, place which is considered as very progressive and tolerant, educational capital of Maharashtra.

For me, he was the man who challenged my beliefs and my faith when I was a teenager. I came to know him through his books, I never met him personally in my life but knew him only through his books and his movement and his organization, Maharashtra andhashraddha nirmoolan samiti (Maharashtra blind faith eradication committee). I was born and brought up in neighborhood where superstitions were very common and regularly practiced, this was going on for years so there was no question of questioning them as everyone thought this is our culture, tradition and it is our duty to follow it, respect it, no questions asked, no explanations offered. I was also one of many who followed things as instructed, blindly without asking any questions, scared of bad omens, praying regularly (even though I don't do it any more, it's not a bad thing to do), proud of my caste (so called upper caste), used to think that I am superior to girls just because I am a on and on...but as a teenager when I read his books for the first time, I was taken a back, I was shocked, I thought, what the heck this man is talking about? Why is he trying to destroy our culture and traditions? Why is he not talking about any other religions? etc. etc. But when I looked around me carefully, without any bias I realized that whatever this man is saying does make sense, whatever questions he is asking are very logical, whatever explanations he is offering sound logical. After initial hesitation and struggle I became huge fan of this man, so much was his effect on my thinking that I started questioning almost everything around me, that questioning made many people uncomfortable, angry or even they started hating me but my questioning never stopped, when I didn't get any answers from people around me I tried to find them on my own, it started my journey of self realization, this man started it and still it's going on.

People say all superstitions are not bad, many are harmless, I totally agree with this, but his fight was not only against those superstitions (many are very dangerous and even kill people) but was also against that mindset which forbids questioning, which crushes any uncomfortable objections raised against established beliefs. He fought against this with his coworkers for more than three decades in Maharashtra on all levels. The power of his movement was so much that even state government who is not willing to touch anything which is even remotely concerned with religion in the name of not hurting people's sentiments was considering (for long time now) to bring anti-superstition law and relentless efforts of Dr. Dabholkar on all levels was one of the main reason for this consideration. He was about to acheive which was considered as almost impossible thing to do (that is to force government to form a law to stop exploitation in name of religion and God). In this whole process he made lot of friends as well as lot of enemies, there are people who continuously abuse him and his organization, they brand him anti-Hindu, anti-God, they want to preserve some of inhuman practices and rituals in name of culture and tradition, for them he was their number one enemy, but they couldn't defeat him intellectually, they couldn't answer his questions, they just wanted to shut him up, stop him from asking more uncomfortable questions, finally they did it by killing him physically. But people like him don't die, they live through their ideas and thoughts, his physical presence is not required to carry on his task, he has empowered many people who can fight against this system, we all need to continue that struggle.

I am really sad not because he died but the way he died, but he was a fighter and died like a fighter. This was the man who challenged my beliefs and my faith, made me angry, shook me, then educated me about superstitions which were very common around me that time, then ultimately changed my outlook, he shaped my thinking, he taught me to ask questions...I am sure like me he changed many others, this is also a tight slap on progressive movement in Maharashtra, it's a real shame that such thing happened in state which calls it self progressive, where many reformist (like Tilak, Phule, Karve) started their work, as a Maharashtrian I am really ashamed that this thing happened there. Those antisocial elements who were scared of his power, his ability to expose lies gunned him down...they couldn't defeat him so they killed him like a coward..but his spirit won't die..there are 100s of Narendra Dabholkars now, how many they can kill??

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this incident.

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Why I still use my last name...

Recently I was sharing my views in one Facebook discussion related with caste system in India. I don't support that system and believe that it is totally flawed and unfair system. It should be banished as soon as possible, because it divides people for no reason. During the discussion one person who was trying to justify this system (using usual arguments like original system was flawless and people messed it up, caste is not decided by birth, etc. which all people who support this system use) said that even though some of us are against this system we all still proudly use our surnames (or last names). He also claimed that the reason we still use it is we all feel proud to associate our selves with glory of our last name. While there are many who are really proud of their caste, I am not one of them. Normally last name or surname in India indicates so many things (like place of origin, profession of ancestors, caste or office of authority, etc.). Mostly they indicate the caste that person belongs, most people who feel proud of their last name (which indicates caste) belong to those so called upper castes (very obvious, no surprise). There are some caste based organizations who glorify some people just because they belong to their caste. There are many great people from history and present generation who did lot of great work and one should feel proud of them but not because of their caste, but for the work which they did, their work is more important than their caste. For me their work is important not their caste.

Now some people might think that I am against use of last names/surnames, no..not at all, rather I come from state in India (Maharashtra) which I think have largest variety of surnames, some of them are really unique and funny and I really love many of those names. I am talking here about names to which people associate some caste, nothing wrong with those names as such but it's association with particular caste is the problem according to me. 

For most of us our name is decided by our parents and before we know anything about caste or religion that name is printed on all our official documents and to change first or last name is not an easy thing, but this is just a technical point, one can change it if one wants. For most Indians my last name is easy giveaway to know which caste I belong, so it's obvious to ask, why I still carny on that tag which represents the system in which I don't believe and don't have any respect, a very perfect and valid question to ask. Actually at one point I thought of removing it, but it's very complicated process (but this can't be a excuse) and I also thought what purpose will it serve? I didn't get find any satisfactory reason to get rid of it and that's the reason I still have it. My last name also acts as a reminder for me, a reminder of that horrible past where this system allowed exploitation of millions of people in the name of caste. So even though I don't believe in that system, my last name reminds me about that system which still exists and practiced (in very different way, specially in rural areas).

Believe it or not there are many people still love to talk proudly about their caste and glorify it, there is no surprise that most these people belong to either brahmin (so called intellectuals), warrior (kshatriya) or vaishya (business class) castes, so called top three varnas of caste system. These three castes are guilty of exploiting castes belonging to fourth varna, shudra. Shudras (all lower castes including untouchables) were exploited by all other varnas for centuries because of this caste system, many times they were treated worst than animals (cattle were treated better than them). So I wonder how can one be proud of product (caste) of such a system which allowed such horrible thing to happen for centuries. Not only people from upper castes allowed it to happen, they were actively involved in it and when shudras protested against this injustice these so called upper castes tried their best to crush their protest and preserve this system which gave them unfair advantage. Fortunately untouchability doesn't exist in India any more in it's original form, but caste system is still present, plays very important role in politics in some regions. There were many attempts to eradicate it but it is so deep rooted in people's mind that they are not willing to let it go so easily.

My last name acts as good reminder for me that we still need to fight against this system which still exists and divides people based on their family of birth. For me the name doesn't have any special meaning, I like my name like many other like their's, it's part of my identity but any other name would have served same purpose, nothing special about this name. As far as my kids are concerned it's entirely up to them if they want to carry this last name with them or not. They were not aware of meaning of this name until I explained it to them, this is because they live in a country where this name (or tag) doesn't have any obvious meaning, it doesn't suggest or indicate anything to people around, so they are quite OK and neutral about it, which is the way it should be. But that's not the case with me, because I know what does it mean, even though that meaning is not important or have any significance to me, I know very well what it means, what it indicates, so it's my conscious decision to keep that name. It is in one way a reminder for me for all autocracies committed against those innocent people in the name of caste.

I wait for the day when my last name (along with many other names which indicate caste) will cease to have any association with any caste, they will be like just any other names which are totally personal, not social. They will mean anything but will not indicate any caste and categorize people, may be it will never happen or may not happen in my lifetime but I believe it's my duty to try to eradicate this system, my fight will continue as long as people know which caste my (or many other) last name belongs, that is as long as caste system exists, so it will be in use just to make it useless one day. Casteism, racism, gender discrimination or any type of discrimination are social evils, we need to eradicate them from society as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Teenage- challenge for both parents and kids..

Recently my daughter entered her teen age years and I already started to feel the effects (or side effects) of it.:) I try my best to have very friendly relationship with my kids, they have total freedom to discuss, argue about any issues which they face or any topics they want to discuss but even after all this I am not their friend (like so many other friends they have of their own age) but a parent who is friendly and this fact remains no matter what I do. Even though I consider my self as a very liberal and patient parent I find myself in the middle so many arguments or debates with my kids specially with my daughter, we argue about so many issues related with behavior,  politics, movies, celebrities and many other things there is absolutely no end for topics for us. I find that on many issues she has totally different opinion than me and sometimes it totally surprises me but when I look back and recollect my own childhood (teenage) days I realize that I was also like this during my teen age days, that was the time when I started reading other books apart from my study books. I was introduced to vast and diverse Marathi literature and those books and readings shaped my thinking to large extend. I started questioning many things which were happening around me, I argued over many customs and rituals which I found were totally outdated and should have been abandoned long back and I think same thing is happening with my kids. They are growing up in totally different world than the world in which I grew up, this is era of internet and cable TV and smart phones.

As I wrote in my previous post related with how to train our kids, I believe that every generation is better equipped to collect knowledge than their previous generation (mostly because of advancement in communication technology), they also have different thinking and different sets of rules, different distractions as well as different lifestyle. Generation gap remains between every two generations, now a days it's much narrower but still I can feel it. At different stages of life people think differently, teen age years are unique in this aspect, our body undergoes lot of physical, hormonal changes and they all affect our behavior and thinking in some way or other. At this age kids also have their own perception (and very strong one) about the world around them, most of the time they feel more closer or more connected to their friends than their parents or siblings. I think most of today's parents try their best to become friends with their kids but very few are successful in this, off course age difference and their relationship (as a parent) plays important role in making this task some what difficult, but I think every parent should try to cultivate this relationship.

As a teenager, kids also go through lot of stress and pressure, this is the time when for the first time they are trying to come out of shadows of their parents, they start feeling power of their personality and feel need of independence because of this they try to reject any control or restrictions imposed on them against their will, many times this battle (between parent and their child) turns ugly and very painful for both sides. Healthy arguments and discussions are fine, they are necessary to share ideas and understand each others views but one should be always careful not to turn arguments into verbal fights. Teenagers have very complex thinking pattern, it's not easy for them to deal with changes around them and parents need to understand that these kids are also facing so many new challenges in this phase of life.

Parents should try to help them as their guides and mentors. Kids should feel confident in coming to parents and discussing with them their problems, they should not be scared or worried about their parents reactions all the time, this (worry) creates lot of stress in their mind and they tend to behave differently in front of their parents just to avoid their comments or reactions. Parents should try their best to make them feel comfortable so that they can express themselves freely, remember this is very important phase of their life and our attitude towards them can change the course of our relationship with them. Every child is special, they all have unique qualities and talent, we just need to provide them nurturing and encouraging environment, I think if we do this then parenthood at all stages can be a very enjoyable process.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

1. Link to watch documentary "Inside teenage brain" documentary

Friday, August 9, 2013

"Seeing the Girl"...a classic example of gender-bias.

"Seeing the Girl" is one of the very important process in case of arranged marriage in Indian subcontinent, people who know about the process and culture of arranged marriages in India, Pakistan and other neighboring countries (with similar culture and traditions) will know what I am referring to. This process may sound outrageous or very backward to many who don't know about process or arranged marriage but it is still very important part of arranged marriage process and it's still practices widely, not only in villages or rural areas but educated people, living in big cities also practice this ritual. I always felt that this process is very humiliating process for prospective brides, I always felt bad for them that they have to go through this and always admired their courage and efforts they take to go through this process smoothly, it's not a easy thing to do according to me.

The process it self not very standard and can differ widely from region to region or family to family, many places they just want to make sure that it's the same girl (whose photo they saw), and she doesn't have some obvious issues which were not disclosed to them (like some disability, etc.). Some families want girl to display her talents like singing, dancing, cooking, etc. Some people take proper interview of that girl by asking variety of questions starting from her hobbies to her career goals to her opinion about living in joint family, etc. So as I wrote the procedure can vary from place to place and family to family. I think this process was necessary in era when women (of any age) were not allowed to roam freely in society and men-women interaction was minimum outside family. During that time it might have been necessary to go and interview potential brides by potential grooms. "Swayamvara" was one unique tradition in ancient India where a girl of marriageable age used to choose her future husband from list of suitable candidates, this ritual gave all rights to woman to choose whoever she likes as her future life partner, but this was in ancient India, today one can only see very distorted version of this on some reality shows on TV.

I am not against arranged marriage or social traditions where people can meet and try to know each other better, these all are very useful and relevant even today. But having a social gathering to know each other is one thing and when group of people analyzes a single person as it she is some piece or article they want to purchase is totally different thing (the way she walks, talks, skin color, etc.). In most cases people who should be actually involved (bride and groom) never even get chance to interact with each other, which is a major flaw of this process (specially in very conservative families). When I expressed my desire to have one to one meeting with my wife before our marriage everyone in our family was shocked and they were wondering what purpose this meeting will serve? They never heard of any boy meeting the girl and discussing about their future life in their community, so it was confusing and sort of shocking to them.

I feel this process of 'seeing the girl' should be stopped or at least radically modified, any bride has equal right to get to know her future groom, so the process should be perfectly balanced for both. It should be entirely left to boy and girl to decide whether they want to go through this process or not and the decision of marriage also should be theirs. I am sure that today's generation is mature enough to take decisions about their own life, choosing life partner is one of that decision. Let's give them a chance I am sure they won't disappoint their elders, after all it's their life and they are more concerned about it than anyone else, so just believe in them and give them chance.

Thanks for reading and please share your views about this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mosque wall and statue of Shivaji..

I read these tow news articles on same day, first was report of suspension of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal by UP government to avoid communal tension after she ordered to demolish wall of illegally under construction mosque, another news was about objection on removal of statue of Shivaji Maharaj from entrance of one new museum in Pune. In both cases officers concerned with maintenance of law and order acted to remove unauthorized structures, I believe that both acted according to present law and there was no other intention behind these actions. But not let's look at the aftermath of both the actions,  in first case that IAS office became a hero (no doubt that she deserved all the support and acclaim) for acting according to law and not bowing to political pressure but in second case police officers who ordered to remove that statue are almost treated like villains. Religion is playing huge part in both the cases, there are people who react differently if some officer tries to demolish illegally constructed temple instead of Mosque. At the same time there are people who support destruction tomb of Afjal Khan (a Mugal officer who was killed by Shivaji), ironically, the tomb which they want to destroy was built by Shivaji himself, but same people are against removal of unauthorized statue because statue is of their idol not some insignificant Mogal sardar. Ideal example of double standard and very hippocratic behavior by few elements of society who want to bring religion, specially Hindu-Muslim conflict in each and every issue (as it generates lot of buzz and disturbance which in turn brings lot of media attention to them).

Both these actions are actually very routine incidents which happen every day as regular administrative processes, demolition of illegal structures is not a new thing, but it always creates lot of controversy if some religious structure is involved. Most people switch off their common sense (if at all they have) and logical thinking process when they deal with religion and politics. Both these institutions love to control people's mind and like to channel their thinking as per their requirement and people oblige in large numbers, which gives them lot of power and strength. These news articles clearly show how difficult it is to create religious harmony in Indian society, as long as these narrow minded elements are present (from all religions) in society this task will be very challenging. I already wrote about 'secular and communal trap' which most of these political parties use to fool their voters and hide their own failures and corruption. Equal blame is on all voters or citizens who allow these parties and religious institutions to exploit them. These institutes re thousands of years old and are their effect is very deep rooted in human psyche, they try to catch people young.

When the administration starts thinking whether to implement law just because of fear of hurting religious sentiments of some group then definitely there is some problem. According to me this can happen only because of two reasons, either that administration is not strong enough or courageous enough to act against these anti-social elements (that is powerless, weak and defunct government) or they are only interested in playing politics of appeasement, politics of divide and rule. This policy of divide and rule is used by various rulers to control their masses, because they know that if masses unite they will discover the truth and then it's not good for them.

I think it's up to us to decide how long we are going to allow them to divide us and exploit us. There will be always people who fall prey to these divisive politics but we need to try our best to make more and more people aware of this trap, may be this will help to realize these politicians that this divisive politics won't work any more and then they really start doing the work which they are supposed to do. We need to change us first then only they will be forced to change, let's hope everyone of us contributes his/her share to bring that change.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

1. Shivaji Maharaj statue removed from the entrance gate of FACT museum
2. U.P. IAS officers, Opposition slam Nagpal’s suspension
3. Furious IAS officers protest against Durga Shakti Nagpal's suspension

Friday, August 2, 2013

Communal and Secular trap...

Politics is a subject of my interest along with many other subjects, and as major part of my life (till date) was spent in India I am interested in Indian politics more than American politics (where I currently reside). As far as I remember Indian politics is revolving around these two terms, 'communal' and 'secular'. BJP was already an active player in Indian politics when I started taking interest in it and use of these two terms is very common since then. Oldest and largest political party of India, Indian National Congress or Congress (I) takes immense pride to call itself as 'secular' party and they (and many other parties with similar ideology) love to label BJP and most of its allies as 'communal' mostly because of their involvement in Ayodhya Ram Mandir issue (which gave them change to come in power) and pro Hindu stance in general. This blame game is going on for decades, both parties try to fool voters by using these two labels that's why I call this as a 'communal and secular trap' for Indian voters and we all are badly trapped in it, so much that many other important issues like corruption, good governance, development, personal and social security, etc. hardly come into discussion during election. Secularism and communalism always become major electoral issues, battles are always fought on communal or secular grounds and voters are emotionally challenged and lured into one of these traps. Political parties also know (by experience) that this strategy works very well and that's why they are using it again and again in every election, it will be interesting to see how long Indian voters keep on falling in same trap again and again.

Religion and caste are integral part of Indian politics (same is true for other countries also), most parties select their candidates based on these two criteria, many times candidate's religion or caste becomes his/her biggest qualification. I have seen even educated voters voting exclusively based on these things, they just vote for particular candidate because he/she belongs to their caste, don't even look for suitability of that candidate for that particular post. These people fail to understand that politics and religion are two different fields and should be treated separately, but because of so much similarity in both these fields people can not separate them from each other. Both (political parties and religious institutes) like to control people by controlling their thought process and use similar strategy that's why it's not surprising that they take help of each other all the time. Actually in Indian politics there is no much difference between 'secular' and 'communal' parties today, parties belonging to both groups play politics of appeasement whenever it benefits them. They all try to create and then cater their vote bank, the labeling is just for the sake of their vote bank nothing else.

I wonder how can a country where your caste and religion is asked on every official form, where your admission to particular college or course can be decided based on your caste can even call itself a secular? Secularism has become another very fanatic religion as bad as communalism. I agree that all these policies (reservation, subsidy, etc.) were started with very noble intention and social justice was main aim behind it, but today most of these policies have become a political tools to harvest votes, the real purpose is completely lost and what left is only dirty politics of appeasement. So called secular parties blame communal parties for majority appeasement and accuse them for minority exploitation or negligence) and in turn so called communal parties accuse secular partied for minority appeasement and blame them for negligence towards majority community. This blame game is going on for years and because of this there is huge rift between majority and minority communities (or religions) and in reality both are struggling with neither of them getting any real benefit. Actual beneficiaries in all this make believe fight are those big political parties, poor voters are still struggling with their day to day problems, still waiting for good governance, but as long as they don't come out of this deadly trap their wait will continue.

Thanks for reading and please share your views about this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)