Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Biki my brother has two kids. The elder one Dhiaan is four years old and his younger sister Parthavi is two years old. Parthavi wants to do everything which Dhiaan does, wants everything which her elder brother has, including playing with his toys, and also displacing him at being pampered by their parents. Possibly she evaluates her self-worth by comparing how well she fares against her brother. Dhiaan on the other hand is annoyed at this emotional blackmail by his younger sister. He senses a visible loss at being dotted on whenever Parthavi tries to shift all focus of attention to herself. He possibly feels insecure and that definitely leads to the breakdown of his normally good behavior.

This scene is very common in families and several couples must have experienced such sibling rivalry, many people must also remember this from their own life story. It is not the fault of the siblings that they behave so, nor is it their fault that they have been placed in such a situation by their parents. Of course how can anybody blame the parents also? Its life after all, isn’t it! We advise and cajole the elder one to bear with the younger one, sometimes scold him too for being selfish. We more often than not succumb to the tactics of the younger one. In the end we see better judgment in taking a back seat and let them fight it out and decide for themselves.  I find an interesting parallel to this sibling competition scenario in today’s inter-religious inter-caste landscape where intolerance has once more raised its fierce head.

Today the nations’ social fabric is once more torn by religion and by caste. Some sections of the population have once more become extremely intolerant. I use the phrase ‘once more’ to emphasize the fact that such episodes are not new. Maybe if I may dare say, we have managed to rise slightly above the gender, colour and geographical divide, though the fault lines are still visible. However much we proclaim that diversity is our strength, each diverse group is at pain justifying how it is secular while others are not. It is very easy to get carried away in this emotionally charged atmosphere. We all end up taking sides which are familiar to us, each religion sides with their own and each caste side with their own. Each group feels justified in its thoughts, words and actions. Each group wishes to enforce its writ or get it acknowledged. Each group carries the opinion of having being wronged by the other or by the state or maybe even fate. Each group behaves as if its existence is under threat. Insecurity rules over reason. Fear rules over love and this happens when religion rules over spirituality.

People often refer to some trigger some past cause to explain the present disturbance. While nothing happens without a reason but having said that, one must not lose sight of the fact that causes are also events which can be easily misrepresented and misinterpreted. A normal consequence, a natural sequence can be given an intention ridden twist, a political or even a partisan colour. Sometimes the cause also has a previous cause which gets overlooked. Every reaction generates some unnecessary counter reaction. Definitely a conscious and deliberate acceptance of the situation would be more advisable; however it is easier said than done in this impatient age. Today Allopathy is more popular than Ayurveda. People just want a quick-fix solution which may be ineffective in the long run or could even be counter-productive.

It is very interesting to notice that India has gone through such phases of social struggle or if one wishes to call it social mayhem time and again. Sometimes it became a fight for survival, sometimes it was to fight against the present regime and sometimes it was an altercation of egos. Researchers should dwell into the root cause of these frequent incidents, whether it has something to do with a typical psychology of the people of this region or even their genes or whether can it simply be attributed to bad luck.  A broad brushing through history reveals some of these shades: Post migration of the Indus people – The old culture was destroyed and replaced by the Vedic culture. Even the spiritually inclined and open Vedic culture changed and became religious and closed. The old native gods disappear or almost, now they can only be seen in few villages and even fewer houses. New gods were created, new religion professed, where rituals and instant benefits took center stage. The caste system made a grand appearance and natives, the aborigines were either converted or segregated. Post the Buddha- The classical clash between the spiritual and the religious. He said there was no god and neither did he respect the caste system. Political patronage became the means to survival and court intrigue ruled the roost. Even the Buddha was poisoned and murdered. Over time both groups modified their respective stands, modified their practices and also their literature. Post the Mughals – Foreigners enter the scene yet again, this time in search of gold and glory, introduced a different way of living and a different religion. This time it was a clash of cultures. Bitter conflicts ended with slaughter of humanity and only those who converted were spared. Cow protection became a rallying point for the Hindus. Destruction of temples and looting its gold became rampant. Post the Christians – Yet another foreigner comes in, again in search of gold and glory, and introduces yet another god and a very different culture. They convert people with a missionary zeal to increase their footprints and social acceptability. They take away local raw material and work, bring back finished goods, take away the profits and livelihood, and make everyone a slave. Modern times post independence – Now there are too many gods, too many religions and too much population. Old habits die hard and the religious plus caste fights continue. New constitution proclaims everyone is equal and to balance the past sins introduces reservation policy. This placating of certain castes is now beginning to hurt, however there is no way out.

Tolerance or intolerance or the fight against both, whichever way you look at it, now runs in the psyche of the people of this land. This has lead to two different schools of thoughts. One says that India was never a tolerant nation; there has always existed these killings and destruction. The other says that when inspite of so much struggle if today we are able to call ourselves a nation, then it is only because we have slowly come to accept and tolerate the difference in all of us. Over time the number and intensity of such incidents have reduced and this trend will continue. Maybe that argument holds weight and promise for the future. 

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