Be scared, very scared even if you are a Hindu on the moderate side, which for troll purposes comes under the ‘sickular’ brand name these days.
You deal with the nameless, faceless fringe elements — who believe only they uphold Hinduism — by ignoring them, but how do you escape when the same voices come from the mainstream.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have appealed for a communal violence-free India, but there are people in his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who seem intent on dealing in provocative speeches that tear into India’s secular fabric, which the Constitution bestows on us.
Days after an FIR was filed against BJP MP Yogi Adityanath for hate speech, another party MP, Sakshi Maharaj, made inflammatory remarks saying madrassas were giving “education of terrorism.”
Throw into the cauldron Union minister Maneka Gandhi’s concern over India being the world’s largest beef exporter and claim that the money from illegal animal slaughter is “going into terrorism, it is going into bomb making. It is going into killing us”.
She does, however, add that no particular community is to be blamed for this.
Dear minister, who are we trying to hoodwink with such qualifiers at a time when self-styled protectors of Hinduism are fuming over ‘Love Jihad’.
It just so happens that Adityanath, Maharaj and Gandhi represent seats in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous and politically key state.
The scare tactics and the accompanying noise are inescapable. Those who consider themselves not ‘sickular’ and thus on the right path make sure you hear their side on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and the like.
Of course, Photoshop comes in handy to attest this confirmation bias.
This is scary because isn’t Hinduism supposed to be inclusive and tolerant — facets that many Indians feel proud upholding.
Losing this tolerance is not an option in a country poised to have the youngest population in the world in a few years.
Eminent jurist Fali Nariman pointed this out recently, arguing that the Hindu tradition of tolerance was showing strain and fearing that Hinduism was changing its benign face.
Lack of tolerance that’s worrying came to fore on the death of writer UR Ananthamurthy. The writer may have rubbed Hindus the wrong way and opposed Modi, but that did not call for distasteful bursting of crackers on his demise.
For sure, we are better than that.
Many of us were born Hindu in this country and have chosen the right to be ‘sickular’. I would like to believe that Hinduism in India still has the breadth to accord ‘sickulars’ their place.
I refuse to live and let die no matter what the cost.
(The views expressed by the writer are personal)