With BJP-led NDA sweeping the elections and having swept the Congress into the dumpster of history likely, people (such as myself) who are labelled “sickular”, “libtard” and other such delectably deranged slurs, are declaring the death of the republic, bemoaning the end of the idea of India, questioning the existence of secular-liberal ideology in India. Moot points, all. Here’s what I think.
- Secularism/liberalism are not foreign to India. Instead of the neat ideals that these two words conjure, a vast majority of Indians have traditionally lived in harmony with others, always smug and snug in the belief that their faith/religion/way of life is superior but they have to coexist with the neighbour whose way of life is different (read ‘inferior’). It was a cheerful disdain for the other, which worked quite well for us for a long enough time period.
- What has changed?
The playbook of identity politics, which Indira Gandhi finessed, has now been taken by the BJP and updated for contemporary hi-tech times. The general public (read majority Hindus) believe that Congress encourages the basest in the minority groups to use as a wedge against the majority. (I have seen this at close quarters growing up in Punjab when Mrs G’s sponsorship of Bhindranwale threatened another Partition.) Let’s just say the chickens have come home to roost.
Meanwhile, for all those crowing about Congress-Mukt Bharat. Let’s just be clear that Indians have voted for passion over reason - a primal response when tribalism is invoked. It is bigotry, plain and simple, the othering of those who are in a minority. Be it Brexit, Trump or Modi. We can hope that this mandate will be used to deliver development and not frittered over make-believe battles with our neighbours.
Baaki, the journey is long, and there is a shayr for every season (and reason).
Dil na summed to nahin nakaam hi to hai
Lambi hai gham ki shaam magar shaam hi to hai. Faiz
- What India needs? Another Gandhi, not in terms of what he preached, but a person who can sell us a story of India we can all believe in and run with. Maha - atma. Hai koi?