Anyone professing secularism today in the country is dubbed as a pseudo-secularist. What does it mean? It also means that both the Congress and the Rightist Parties talk of secularism in their own interpretive ways. While the former castigates the latter, the latter in turn mouths platitudes and actually begins to talk about societies in terms of minority interests and so on. In doing so it at once polarizes the society and the country as a whole. If we are to talk in one breath about India we have to realize the secular values and principles upon which this nation is founded. We cannot talk about religion first or minorities first and then speak about the country. It has to be the other way round.
The recent rape of a young lady in a running bus in New Delhi has led to loud protests from all over the country irrespective of ethnic and religious groups. The protests have taken place across the country loud and clear. It is the Indian sensibility which is facing wrath, mattering little which community the lady or her friend comes from. The fact of the matter is human dignity has been violated in the worst definable manner, and this has led to the demand of capital punishment for such heinous crime and moral decrepitude. It is the moral view point and the issue of depravity which are being inquired into. The same thing should happen if the crime is perpetrated against a foreigner.
It is high time that we continue defining and redefining Indianness. What does it mean? What does it uphold? The concept of India is greater than Indians, said M.J. Akbar during a recent visit to Shillong. Before discovering Indianness, we must comprehend the dimension of India and what it entails with referential meanings of caste, community, race and religion. This must be one of the basic tenets of education in schools and colleges.
Only then can be uphold the sacrosanct value of what it means to be Indian and the hallowed concept of India. In the brutish episode in New Delhi, as well as those which happened there earlier and other parts of the country, have been examples of not only the violation of women’s rights but violation of human rights. Such transgressions are seen even in fractious fights among communities whether they are on religious or ethnic grounds. At that point in time, it is the vulnerability of the country and its integrity that are exposed in the worst manner. Once we respect humanity, we respect every man and woman in the country immaterial of the fact to which region they belong to, what language they speak and what religion they profess.
So, introspecting it is undoubtedly a fact that the BJP’s victory in Gujarat is a mandate of the people; Hindu, Muslim and Christian. It is up to political parties to review and reappraise the concept and notion of secularism. This is the fight in the country between embattled forces of both secularism and those which have pretentions to it, but are totally off the mark.