No, I am not talking about the resistance and tolerance that we, wannabe engineers talk about as a part of our curriculum. Nor is this one inspired by the just concluded viva session. It is truly not something to write home about. I am talking about resistance to religious intolerance.
I will take a walk down memory lane, back to my school days. I did my schooling at an Asian school in the Gulf. I am glad I was a part of the institution I was in. It wasn’t because of the teachers, nor was it the infrastructure and facilities, nor was it the amazing co-curricular and extra-curricular set-up.
It was plainly because of the cosmopolitan nature of the crowd. We had people from at least 6 different nationalities, the majority being Indians, followed in numbers by Pakistanis. There were also people from possibly all the religions which are known to me today. We had friends amongst all. When we were friends, never did the question of nationalities or religion come in. We celebrated Eid, Christmas and Diwali with the same vigour. There were no prejudices what so ever, except when it came to an India Vs. Pakistan cricket match. Even that rivalry was extremely healthy.
I don’t claim to be really good friends with every one, but then, there was a great deal of respect for one another’s beliefs and culture, and we were always open to the idea of taking back something new. This is something which I really find to be missing in India.
We boast of unity in diversity and our secular values, but do we practice what we preach? I don’t want to sound accusatory but it is a fact. I don’t think everyone is intolerant but it is something which has spread to a majority, more so, with the middle aged and elderly population.
I see my grandparents telling my 5 year old cousins, not to fight when one person hits the other and rather go and complaint to one of the elders at home. Two of their favourite lines are “You don’t have the right to punish your sibling” and “Revenge doesn’t get you anywhere”. All this is forgotten when they defend the perpetrators of the riots in Gujarat or the policeman responsible for fake encounters of Muslims. Is it hypocrisy? Or is it just the post independence mind-set? Or is it just the feeling that India means Hindutva n Hindutva alone?
I completely respect my grandparents but that really doesn’t justify mine condoning their step-brotherly treatment to fellow Indians. I’m not standing for any religion or caste. It is a sad state that we first think as Hindus or Muslims and then as Indians. The politicians just thrive by adding fuel to the fire of communism.
Gandhiji once said “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.” I guess that’s where we are headed, to a world of darkness. I sincerely hope it’s otherwise. There is no good religion or bad religion; there are just good people and bad people.