Amidst the ideological race in India, propelled by the hyper sensitivity carefully drafted and promoted by vested interests there is one question that haunts my mind: why almost every community feels insecure in India? This question gains all the more relevance in the context of almost all communities whether religious, cultural, linguistic, ethnic, have at some point of time in the independent India voiced their concerns about their sense of insecurity.
The insecurity that I am referring to here is by no means limited to social life. People belonging to different ethnic groups tend to feel insecure and hence insulate themselves from others not only in rural areas but even in urban areas of India. And there is no dearth of reasons that people put forward to justify their perception as well as habit of creating such social boundaries. Is this case not most glaring in incidents where Indian citizens from the north east face social discrimination in our metropolitan cities and therefore they would naturally feel insecure?
Similar, if not worse, is the case with the Dalits of India who feel insecure amid people belonging to the so called upper castes. More often than not the Dalits, who are also called the outcastes, live on the peripheries of Indian villages and their social interactions are also very much restricted. What is worse is that their presence among the people of other castes is even resisted – violently at times - as we have several incidents reported in many states of India. There are too many incidents where such discriminatory treatment is meted out to the Dalits, where they have been intimidated, physically abused and even killed for ‘daring’ to ride a horse, to wear a headgear, to watch cricket match and even befriending a person of his or her choice.
Insecurity among the women of India is staring in our face as daily accounts of physical abuse, rape, murder and the horrible ‘honor killing’ are on the rise. Even the stringent laws enacted the central Government for the safety and security of women in our towns and villages have not yielded their desired results. What is alarming, as some would suggest is the cruelty meted out to female infants and girl children who are victims of rape and killing - a sure and distressing sign of conscience deficit in our society.
Added to the list of insecure communities are the religious minorities who often are at the receiving end for fictitious and fabricated reasons. The situation gets aggravated when some political and social organizations fuel suspicion and hurl innuendo against them, with the consequence of escalating social unrest and violence. The recent years in India we have witnessed far too many incidents where Indians belonging to religious minority groups have been pointedly targeted for alleged crimes of dishonoring the majority community’s religious sentiments associated with their sacred animal. Religious sentiments have their rightful place and value in any society and they should be honored but to inflict injury and unleash violence and even murder in the name of religious sentiments should be alien to informed societies.
More atrocious is the sense of insecurity instilled in some religious minority groups that assemble to worship in their homes and places of worship. It appears that some of radical elements in India seem to arrogate to themselves the right to disallow fellow citizens’ right to freely worship and practice their religion. Such tendencies violate every norm under the constitution of India to which all citizens of India pledge their allegiance. It is this pledge of loyalty to the constitution of India – sign of true patriotism - that must be encouraged and promoted rather than narrow sectarianism as done by certain organizations in India.
However what defies all rhyme and reason is the insecurity voiced by certain organizations claiming to represent the majority religious community in India. And their constant cries to safeguard themselves from the imagined onslaught from minority communities has given rise to social polarization in ways that do not augur well for the future of the country. For the simple reason that a country cannot hold together much less progress and become a world force to reckon with if its citizens are not on the same wavelength of thought and action. It is indeed an irony of sorts that some organizations purportedly representing the majority community that is well represented at all levels of socio-political institutions keep shouting from the rooftops that they are in danger in their own country.
India is a democratic and secular country with space for all sections of people to grow and develop. The mool matra of Mr. Modi – sabka saath, sabka vikas – reflects the true spirit of the constitution of India but it is still a moot question if it has been translated into everyday life of the common citizen of India.
(The writer is former spokesperson of CBCI, New Delhi.)
(Published on 11th June 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 24)