YES, WE ARE STILL RESILIENTLY TOLERANT.

And for that reason, and that reason alone, we need to fight the increasing (fringe) voices of ‪‎intolerance – because it encompasses all – every sane and insane element in the ongoing ‘tolerance Vs intolerance’ debate that has seemed to envelope the nation’s consciousness.

Is there a radically surcharged atmosphere of negative connotations in the country?

Yes. It is.

Even if it is limited to some fringe elements!

Because they present face of an eminent danger lurching all around – that their increasing mainstreaming can vitiate the atmosphere to the extent that social harmony can again be taken for ride, can be tossed, by various anti-national elements, desperate to grab any such development.

We have seen it so many times – especially during rounds of massive riots that engulfed a large part of the country’s consciousness.

It is no hidden fact that Babri demolition and riots associated with it caused some ominous and fundamental changes in ‘manifestation of religious expressions’ – both by Hindus and by Muslims.

Opinion leaders and religious satraps of Hinduism threw more claims and threw vehement claims. Loudspeakers cropped up on many mosques. And the ensuing aftermath saw many more sporadic rounds of communal violence.

But, even after that, even after several such dark chapters in our post-independence history, the common refrain from an ordinary ‘common man’ Hindu or Muslim is still that living peacefully and surviving harmoniously always get precedence over the nitty-gritty of religious affairs; that an ordinary folk has his day to day survival in mind and not these ‘supercharged elements and the resultant surcharged atmosphere’.

The Indian society has survived and survived well these – keeping them at bay – and whenever these voices got some space, the social weaving came to heal the sentiments pushing such voices to the fringes of irrelevance.

We are so ‘common and routine’ about our life and its survival priorities but not about such religious preferences that work to divide us becomes once again clear when a sensitive portrayal of our togetherness in a movie, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, binds Indian and Pakistanis together in a mission – the two nations, the two sworn enemies, the two religious domains – with history of conflicts and hostilities.

And we need to fight fringe voice to preserve this ‘so common and routine’ way of our life – whenever they try to push their course into the mainstream of our conscious – we need to push them away, to beyond even fringes of irrelevance – today or tomorrow.

Religion is an important part of our being but it should always be – as it is in our day to day life – where we decide on our worship routine – where we shape how we need to follow our religion – where we feel a friendly reverence for our Almighty – where we ‘routinely’ fear about repercussions of doing something bad, something that will hurt and thus will anger our God.

We should decide on our religious preferences and practices. Religion should never decide on who we should become.

The conscience of the universal values of humanity should the conscious of every religion –open to changes with changing times – and not the other way round.

We have been and we are resiliently tolerant and we will successfully fight this momentary, peripheral surge of intolerance.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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THE MAHATMA, COW SLAUGHTER AND BEEF BAN

“An English doctor, on hearing that the law student was a vegetarian, insisted that he make an exception for beef-tea, since, unlike in the tropics, where a diet based on grain and vegetables would do, ‘in the cold climate of England the addition of beef or mutton is essential’. They argued, back and forth, till the doctor, in exasperation, exclaimed: ‘You must either take beef-tea or die!’ Gandhi answered that ‘if it were God’s will that I should die I must die, but I was sure it could not be God’s will that I should break the oath that I made on my mother’s knee before I left India’.”

Mahatma Gandhi | Experiments with eating – Ramchandra Guha – Livemint – October 5, 2013

That is what the Mahatma or Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi followed about his diet in his life as a law student in England. And it remained so throughout his life. He revered cow. He preferred to die than to include beef in his routine.

But, though he was a staunch Hindu, he was the one with a deeply secular worldview. He never advocated ‘legal ban’ on cow slaughter based on religious grounds. The man, who till last fought to prevent India’s partition, the man who saw India as the motherland with a diverse cultural heritage of different religions, the man who advocated ‘Hindustani’, with combined tradition of Hindi and Urdu, as the ‘lingua franca’ of India – he could have never said so.

The Hindu’s account of his last 200 days (Mahatma Gandhi: The Last 200 Days, p19) says – “The Mahatma was irrevocably convinced that the people of independent India should be linked by Hindustani, a language comprising the scripts and resources of both Hindi and Urdu, and that English should only be of secondary importance.”

Political India is in midst of a legacy war to claim ‘patronage’ of the ‘brand Gandhi’ but every person trying it must remember that it can happen only the ‘Mahatma way’.

And among many visions of a grand independent India vision were the Mahatma’s views on cow slaughter and beef eating – because cow protection has been a central religious theme in India in every period.

The Hindu’s book on his last 200 days says (p19) – “In his prayer meeting, Gandhiji again roundly criticised the hypocrisy of Hindus who sold their cattle for the animal to find their way to butchers, and yet demanded a Government ban on cow slaughter.”

An article on the website The Wire has published a long, translated version of this – from the ‘Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Volume 88, the Gandhi Heritage Portal – based on the Mahatma’s observations on the day (July 25, 1947). Here it is:

Rajendra Babu tells me that he has received some 50,000 postcards, between 25,000 and 30,000 letters and many thousands of telegrams demanding a ban on cow-slaughter. I spoke to you about this before. Why this flood of telegrams and letters? They have had no effect.

I have another telegram which says that a friend has started a fast for this cause. In India no law can be made to ban cow-slaughter. I do not doubt that Hindus are forbidden the slaughter of cows. I have been long pledged to serve the cow but how can my religion also be the religion of the rest of the Indians? It will mean coercion against those Indians who are not Hindus.

We have been shouting from the house-tops that there will be no coercion in the matter of religion. We have been reciting verses from the Koran at the prayer. But if anyone were to force me to recite these verses I would not like it. How can I force anyone not to slaughter cows unless he is himself so disposed? It is not as if there were only Hindus in the Indian Union. There are Muslims, Parsis, Christians and other religious groups here.

The assumption of the Hindus that India now has become the land of the Hindus is erroneous. India belongs to all who live here. If we stop cow slaughter by law here and the very reverse happens in Pakistan, what will be the result? Supposing they say Hindus would not be allowed to visit temples because it was against Shariat to worship idols? I see God even in a stone but how do I harm others by this belief? If therefore I am stopped from visiting temples I would still visit them. I shall therefore suggest that these telegrams and letters should cease. It is not proper to waste money on them.

I have been long pledged to serve the cow but how can my religion also be the religion of the rest of the Indians? It will mean coercion against those Indians who are not Hindus.

Besides some prosperous Hindus themselves encourage cow-slaughter. True, they do not do it with their own hands. But who sends all the cows to Australia and other countries where they are slaughtered and whence shoes manufactured from cow hide are sent back to India? I know an orthodox Vaishnava Hindu. He used to feed his children on beef soup. On my asking him why he did that he said there was no sin in consuming beef as medicine.

We really do not stop to think what true religion is and merely go about shouting that cow-slaughter should be banned by law. In villages Hindus make bullocks carry huge burdens which almost crush the animals. Is it not cow-slaughter, albeit slowly carried out? I shall therefore suggest that the matter should not be pressed in the Constituent Assembly…

I have been asked, ‘Since in view of the atrocities being perpetuated by Muslims it is difficult to decide which of the Muslims are to be trusted, what should be our attitude towards the Muslims in the Indian Union? What should the non-Muslims in Pakistan do?

I have already answered this question. I again repeat that all the religions of India today are being put to the test. It has to be seen how the various religious groups such as the Sikhs, the Hindus, the Muslims and the Christians conduct themselves and how they carry on the affairs of India. Pakistan may be said to belong to Muslims but the Indian Union belongs to all. If you shake off cowardice and become brave you will not have to consider how you are to behave towards the Muslims. But today there is cowardice in us. For this I have already accepted the blame.

In villages Hindus make bullocks carry huge burdens which almost crush the animals. Is it not cow-slaughter, albeit slowly carried out?

I am still wondering how my 30 years’ teaching has been so ineffective. Why did I assume, to begin with, that non-violence could be a weapon of cowards? Even now if we can really become brave and love the Muslims, the Muslims will have to stop and think what they could gain by practising treachery against us. They will return love for love. Can we keep the crores of Muslims in the Indian Union as slaves? He who makes slaves of others himself becomes a slave. If we answer sword with sword, the lathi with lathi and kick with kick, we cannot expect that things will be different in Pakistan. We shall then lose our freedom as easily as we have gained it…

[Translated from Hindi] – Prarthana Pravachan –I, pp 277-280

The website published this account in the context of the mob lynching incident of a Muslim Indian citizen in Delhi’s neighbourhood Greater Noida ‘for allegedly slaughtering a cow and storing beef in his house’. The man was killed and his son was left critically injured.

And political parleys are on to politicise the matter – to polarize votes on religious lines – to gain upper hand in the Bihar assembly election that is beginning on October 12 and in the Uttar Pradesh assembly election in early months of 2017.

What the Mahatma had spoken some 68 years ago still holds true. Today, Hindus are in fact major beneficiaries of beef export. After 68 years of independence, India, with all its problems, is a strong and functional democracy – the largest in the world – with a transparent electoral process. And in such a democracy, questions like ‘legal ban’ on cow slaughter or ‘beef’ on religious grounds would never ne logical.

The Hindu’s book about Bapu’s last 200 days further says (p19-20) – Bapu concluded, “If we can become brave, and love the minorities, they will return love for love… Can we make crores of minority people slaves?… We should remember that he who would make slaves of others does himself become a slave.”

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

BHATTA PARSAUL TO BISADA

Or Bisheda..or Bishera..or Bisara..

These names, irrespective of their localized/dialectic forms, are symbolic of our politics of the day, and in a way, also convey how the society is responding to the political calls.

These two villages in Greater Noida, in Delhi’s neighbourhood, have been in the news for all wrong reasons.

Bhatta Parsaul first came in headlines in May 2011 after violent clashes between police and villagers leaving some police officials and villagers dead. Villagers were protesting against acquisition of their land by the state government.

Back then, as is the trend, the issue got heavily politicised soon – aggravated by the fact that the state assembly elections were due in the early months of next year, in 2012. Bhatta Parsaul became the rallying point for all political outfits including the Congress party – then ruling India with its Delhi government led by Manmohan Singh. Uttar Pradesh had then BSP’s government and Mayawati was the chief minister.

We are well over four years past that incident. And Bhatta Parsual still rings the bell for same reason.

The other major symbolism that goes to Bhatta Parsaul is as political as the ‘issue of forced land acquisition’ in India.

Rahul Gandhi tries to create symbolic entities during the course of his political journey and Bhatta Parsaul came to symbolize his ‘appeal’ for ‘pro farmer land policies’.

The world remembers the way Rahul Gandhi had dodged the state security apparatus to reach the village. But in spite of Rahul’s desperate efforts to reap political mileage, Congress was badly humiliated again, in the UP assembly polls – including Jewar – the assembly constituency seat Bhatta Parsaul comes under. Rahul’s experiment had given ticket to a person who had helped Rahul reach Bhatta Parsaul on his bike. But he could earn voters’ trust.

The important message from this outcome was – people had started reading signs – and needed more than political rhetoric and associated acts. Land acquisition is a socially burning issue no doubt but BSP’s win and Congress’ loss, even at Jewar seat, told us the issue could not sway the electorate.

Or people saw political designs of every political outfit and decided to go with the BSP MLA in spite of BSP being in the power.

Rahul Gandhi had tried to use ‘Bhatta Parsaul symbolism’ again in the last year’s parliamentary elections but the defeat this time was deafening – in India, in Uttar Pradesh, and in most states in India.

In that sense, we can say Bhatta Parsaul refused to become the political bogey around the sensitive issue of land acquisition in a country where agriculture still supports the major section of the population.

It is a different thing that voters were running short of options.

Bisada – a Greater Noida village – has begun the rallying point for vested political interests – with another round of important assembly polls beginning just in a week in Bihar and with Uttar Pradesh assembly elections just 18 months away.

On Monday night, a mob killed a Muslim Indian citizen for allegedly slaughtering a cow and consuming beef.

While land is sensitive issue affecting common Indians of every religion and people have started acting more informed on related policy matters, religion is still the opium of the masses.

The Western Uttar Pradesh Hindu-Muslim riots before the Lok Sabha elections last year were the worst India saw in its recent history – and the trigger was rumour mongering that, left unchecked, led to violent chest thumping and subsequently to full scale religious violence.

Humanity is still reeling in its aftermath. Bisada must not instigate another round. The culprits must be dealt with ruthlessly. And the state machinery, and humanity, must ensure that rumour mongers and ‘the people spewing hate venom’ must not be seen around. Just some routine ‘financial and job compensation’ stuff won’t do.

Bisada of Greater Noida must not be allowed to become Kawal of Muzaffarnagar. Kawal lynching had spread like wildfire resulting in the riots. #DadriLynching or lynching in Bisada must be addressed strictly to avoid any repeat.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/