Monday, March 16, 2015

On the "attempts to make India a saffron Pakistan"

As India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, approaches the completion of the first year in office, there are certainly a few trends that will worry everyone except the Modi fans.  One is about the sense of a de-secularization of the public space and the uneasiness among the Muslims and Christians in particular.

I often think that this was to be expected.  After all, Modi has never hid from the public his allegiance to the divisive RSS and to the idea of Hindutva.  The leopard, as they say, doesn't change its spots, and Modi has never seemed to even try changing his spots!

What was surprising was to read an opinion piece that simply went for the jugular.  But then the author, Julio Ribeiro, too hasn't changed his spots.  A former pull-no-punches high ranking, and highly decorated, police officer, stays on character when he writes:
Today, in my 86th year, I feel threatened, not wanted, reduced to a stranger in my own country.  The same category of citizens who had put their trust in me to rescue them from a force they could not comprehend have now come out of the woodwork to condemn me for practising a religion that is different from theirs. I am not an Indian anymore, at least in the eyes of the proponents of the Hindu Rashtra.
That ought to hurt the RSS fanatics; but then they don't care.  After all, if they cared, they would not be fanatics, right?

Ribeiro adds:
Is it coincidence or a well-thought-out plan that the systematic targeting of a small and peaceful community should begin only after the BJP government of Narendra Modi came to power last May?
Of course it is no coincidence.
It is tragic that these extremists have been emboldened beyond permissible limits by an atmosphere of hate and distrust. The Christian population, a mere 2 per cent of the total populace, has been subjected to a series of well-directed body blows. If these extremists later turn their attention to Muslims, which seems to be their goal, they will invite consequences that this writer dreads to imagine.
That atmosphere of hate and distrust that has been created since last May won't easily go away.  A tragedy, indeed!  It didn't take much time to destroy even the little bit of trust that was built slowly over the years.

In another interview, Ribeiro says:
People need to know that attempts to make India a saffron Pakistan will not work and should not be encouraged. India is where people from different religions, communities live. We are not Pakistan but we can get there if certain people and their actions are not opposed. I may be over reacting but I feel it is my responsibility to oppose this openly.
As one who has been observing the trends from the outside, I don't see anything in what Ribeiro says to think he is over-reacting.

It is a shame that India's politics have gone this route.  And an awful tragedy!


Anne in Salem said...

What a weird video. Of course, the song makes no sense, so why should the video?

How much courage it must take to make statements such as Ribeiro has made. Perhaps he is too high profile to disappear, but there must be some risk. I cannot imagine living somewhere I cannot practice my religion freely - or speak freely about it.

It seemed that India had managed what many other countries had not - a mostly peaceful, if tentative, coexistence of multiple religions. Such a tragedy if the struggles of so many are in vain.

Sriram Khé said...

you dare to say awful things about one of the greatest songs ever?!!! tsk-tsk-tsk ...

Yes, Ribiero is old (86) and too high a profile to worry about his life. But, there is unease even among some of my non-Hindu friends back in India. Not that they fear for their lives, but that nagging, uneasy feeling ... If the Modi maniacs get further along this path, then the uneasy feeling will worsen and reactions will be even more tragic for India ...

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