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Home / Analysis / Germany's response to the migrant crisis heartwarming

Germany's response to the migrant crisis heartwarming

With intolerance rising in India, we are no longer capable of welcoming refugees in the way Germany is, writes Sidharth Bhatia.

analysis Updated: Sep 10, 2015 16:28 IST
Siddharth Bhatia
Siddharth Bhatia

In a world beset with hatred and violence, the scenes emerging from Germany have been heart-warming to say the least. Not only has the country’s Chancellor Angela Merkel — till recently seen as a bully trying to cow down a broke Greece — personally made it clear that her country will welcome tens of thousands of refugees from Syria and other places, the citizens have opened up their hearts and wallets to the hapless migrants. This is humanity at its best.

Will Germany’s decision solve the problem of refugees? Hardly. The numbers emerging from Syria are overwhelming. Add to those refugees from other war-torn countries in Africa and those who are escaping for a better economic future in the West and whose countries may not be in the middle of a crisis.

It is important to note that the Syrians who will now enter Germany are Muslims, about whom rabble-rousers around the world are warning us. The conflation of being Muslim with terrorism is a common refrain even among perfectly sane people, who do so in casual conversations and in “civilised” settings.

I thought of this while reading reports of an article written by Pravin Togadia in the weekly magazine of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, Organiser. Togadia is a man of many parts — he is a surgeon, he heads the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, he gives speeches — in one which he suggested how Muslims could be barred from buying houses in Hindu areas — and he writes too.

In an article titled Time to Act Before Too Late! he has suggested that Muslims should not be allowed to have more than two children. According to him, Hindus have shrunk in number because Muslims have driven Hindus out from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir.

“Bharat is at a weak ground as it is surrounded by the countries that are supported by the Muslim Umma that is over 80 countries,” he said. Apart from this, he suggests India “kick out” 300,000 Bangladeshis who do not belong here. Bharat has reached these “dire straits” because of ‘Population Jihad’, he once declared.

Publications like Organiser also reflect the worldview, if not the agenda, of the owners. It gives a good idea of not just the concerns but also the schema of the RSS, which calls itself a cultural body, but has largely unfolded itself as being a political organisation.

It is a myth that politics means standing for elections (though RSS-trained workers frequently do that too). Politics is often played in other ways too, and as we are increasingly seeing, the RSS wants to involve itself in the country’s political management.

Organiser, which began publishing in 1947, is a must read to get a sense of the organisation’s weltanschauung. The August 30 issue of the magazine is a fairly fitting example. It has a cover story on the economy, another on start-ups (called Upstart Bharat), a piece by Mridula Sinha, governor of Goa, on how yoga can help women and another on respecting our teachers. It is worth to note that Organiser refers to India as Bharat everywhere in its writing.

The current issue’s editorial is on the census figures, wherein it is suggested that the growth of Muslims in the country is leading to an imbalance for the last three decades. It poses several questions, including whether this is a “larger conspiracy to Islamicise Bharat”.

Togadia’s article made a bit of noise, but only from the inside pages. The nightly outrage-wallahs also seem to have given it a miss.

Perhaps Togadia’s incendiary statement is not seen as much newsworthy. We have been inoculated against hatred. Giriraj Singh, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Yogi Adityanath, they all have said so much more; Togadia is just another in that list.

This is no longer front-page news as the space is now taken by more important updates like cricket or even a high society scandal. What is worrying is that a Togadia is not warned off, much less arrested under the hate laws. He knows no power can touch him. Scarier still, he may be reflecting the views of many others.

Germany has a terrible legacy; it has done everything in its power to eliminate. It’s not that the country has no traces of racism, but with this one gesture it has managed to display its expansive heart. Other countries in Europe will now have to step up, or risk being seen as cold-hearted.

India too has a long tradition of taking in refugees — during World War 2 refugees came from Poland and other European countries. In recent years, they have come from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. We have always been a welcoming society. But today, in the prevailing climate of open communalism, would we have taken in Syrian refugees if they landed up on our doorstep? Perhaps not.

It seems that slogans like ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ (the guest is equivalent to god) is now limited for the right kind of people. Besides, Togadia may never allow it.

(Sidharth Bhatia is the Founder Editor of The views expressed are personal)

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