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Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan: Please do as you would be done by

Our Constitution mandates equality between men and women, castes and communities. Are we there yet?

more lifestyle Updated: Nov 13, 2016 08:54 IST
Renuka Narayanan
Isn’t it quaint, and convenient, to expect Donald Trump to personify liberal perfection, when we don’t?
Isn’t it quaint, and convenient, to expect Donald Trump to personify liberal perfection, when we don’t?(AP)

Donald Trump’s victory reflects a ‘rightwing thriving in a vacuum’ according to an article in The Guardian on Thursday.

It’s what I’ve said since April 2000 about ‘Hinduism’ — occupy it, own it and operate it, otherwise it falls into other hands. It’s necessary because the gods are not going anywhere. This is their home and most people won’t let them go. Why should they?

So why talk at ‘Hindus’, let’s talk to them. Are they strangers? Why did we trash our own majority as if ‘we’ were white Americans and ‘they’ were immigrants? And why was liberal perfection expected only of them and of no other community?

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Especially given the unique Hindu history of reform, was it not unrealistic on our part to kick the ladder we climbed instead of working together to colour the whole map of our country with the reforms that so many early-liberal families embraced?

In my view, 1989, when Hindus were thrown out of Kashmir, is a big reason for why there is silent ghettoisation across India. No other minority in India spoke up for the Hindu minority of Kashmir then. Not one is recalled to have. The liberal discourse was only about the Army. Alas, this reinforced the worst historical stereotypes in general perception: “This what ‘they’ do to Hindus when in a majority. At least I can keep them out of MY home.”

The Rath Yatra was quick to tap into that in 1990, because the BJP actually ‘talked to Hindus’. It knew what people were saying among themselves. But the liberal narrative still goes straight from 1984 to 1992. None of ‘us’ listened or talked to ‘Hindus’. We still don’t make these connections.

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But it’s never too late to come out of the mid-20th century mindset. I don’t believe that the ‘regressives’ don’t introspect; I don’t believe that is true of ‘regressives’ from any community. All communities have been playing their games. Now how about taking responsibility together, for the sake of our national health?

Meanwhile, the old global war between ‘crusaders’ and ‘crescentaders’ has reached another peak with Donald Trump’s victory. As a Hindu whose country was ruled first by Hindus and in parts by Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Jews and Sikhs, I tend to take the long view. Since my religion has never wanted to ‘rule the world’, I am able to dispassionately see that everybody had their turn. As for my religion, its bad points are rightly denounced but its good points are mine to keep.

While rulers have come and gone, our human covenant as people living together in one country has remained. We have a Constitution that is our equivalent of a modern holy book. Our interests are best served by aiming at human dignity for all. And that means, for one, that men of all castes and communities should have respect for all women. It means that one slice of the population should not try to control the lives or freedoms of any other slice citing tradition or ‘culture’.

Read: More from Renuka — Trampled, trodden under in the name of God

Where are you on this grid? And isn’t it quaint (and convenient) to expect Donald Trump to personify liberal perfection, when you don’t?

(The views expressed are personal.)